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The Life and Services of 

John Newland Maffitt 

By Emma Martin Maffitt 

[His Widow] 


Handsome letterpress and paper; bound in best quality of book cloth, with 
decorations in gold leaf; reinforced by head bands, gold top; large octavo, 6 
by 9 inches ; fully illustrated. 

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The Lite and Services of 

John Newland Maffitt 

By Emma Martin Maffitt 

[His Widow] 

riting to one of his former naval officers, 
Captain Maffitt, — Captain Maffitt in his 
modest country home, " The Moorings," 
surrounded by his friends and his family and his 
books and flowers and the memory of his glory- 
days, — under date of June 13, 1870, Mr. Jefferson 
Davis says, " I felt that I was taxing you heavily 
by my request, but, as on more memorable occasions, 
you have exceeded what was to be fairly expected of 
you." This quiet clause is the epitome of the bril- 
liant, stirring, loyal, sacrificial service of John 
Newland Maffitt, seaman, surveyor, commander, 
author, patriot. People grew to expect much of 
him, and he always u exceeded what was to be 
fairly expected of him." "The bravest of the 
brave," as Admiral Dewey calls him, he was always 
ready, alert, efficient, resourceful, untiring, self- 


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The Life and Services of John Newland Maffitt 

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Captain John Newland Maffitt 

reliant, open-hearted, a sea-soldier of the noblest 

John Newland Maffitt was essentially a man of the 
sea. He was born at sea in 1S19, the year so many 
famous landlubbers were born on terra firm a, and his 
first child, a little baby daughter, was christened 
on board a U. S. man-of-war. He was appointed a 
midshipman of the U. S. Navy in 1832, a stripling 
of thirteen. For thirty-five years he lived on the 
water, sailing npon all the oceans the sun shines on ; 
through misfortunes, injustices, personal sorrows 
and calumnies; through fame, praises, and the 
unalterable love of his fellow-seamen, he was faith- 
ful to his two loves, one and inseparable — the sea 
and his country's flag. 

Take this record: a midshipman at thirteen, he 
serves on the frigates St. Louis, Vandalia and the 
Macedonian ; he cruises in the Mediterranean from 
1835 to 1838 on the Constitution, " Old Ironsides" ; 
is ordered to the U. S. Coast Survey and surveys 
the Atlantic coast from Massachusetts to Georgia; 
in 1S5S commands the U. S. brig Dolphin and 
later the Crusader; resigns from U. S. Navy 
May 2, 1 86 1, and on May 7 offers his services to 
the Confederate States; in November, 1861, he 
joins the staff of Lee and is emplo3'ed in mapping 
roads and building forts ; in 1862 commands the 

Cecile, blockade-runner, and the Gordon, bringing 
supplies and ammunition to the Confederacy ; in 
May, 1862, takes command of the Florida and, 
cruising till September, 1S63, he captures and 
destroys more than five million dollars' worth of 
Federal property ; resigns command of the Florida 
011 account of ill health ; later, commands the ram 
Albemarle, and, in December, 1864, the C. S. S. 
Ow/, ■= bringing in supplies until the end of the 
war; obtains command of the British merchant ship 
Widgeon; resigns in March, 1S67, comes to 
America and buys a farm in North Carolina, 
where he dies May 15, 1886. 

So you see this man rendered invaluable serv- 
ice to his country, service that cost him strength 
and patience and treasure, sacrifice of opportunity 
and fortune. He worked against fearful odds — 
inadequate equipment, raw recruits, scanty provi- 
sions and ammunition, yellow fever, and, worst and 
most unnecessary, ingratitude and misconstruction. 
He nursed his men through yellow fever, helped 
bury them with his own hands, himself captain, 
quartermaster, surgeon, chaplain, the Florida in 
alien waters, half-provisioned and half-manned — 
" Here was a man ! Whence comes such another ? " 

In recording the life of her famous husband, 
Mrs. Maffitt accomplishes a beautiful work in a 

beautiful way. She tells us that she promised her 
dying step-daughter, Florie, — the same little girl 
who was christened on board a U. S. man-of-war and 
grew to be a lovely and faithful woman, — that she 
would write the life of her dear father. And inso- 
much as Captain Maffitt was a valorous and capable 
seaman, a trustworthy and honored officer and an 
absolutely unselfish patriot whom great men de- 
lighted to honor, her modest, frank, unassuming 
narrative does both her husband and herself the 
more honor. It is a fitting monument to a man 
worthy of it. 

Handsome letterpress and paper; bound in best quality of book 
cloth, with decorations in gold leaf; reinforced by head = bands, gold 
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The Neale Publishing Company, New York and Washing 

The Life and Services of 
John Newland Maffitt 


The Life and Services 


John Newland Maffitt 



{His Widow) 



The Neale Publishing Company 


Copyright, 1 906 
By Emma Martin MafHtt 

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flDr. 3ames Sprunt 

Ube faitbful friend wbo, more tban anp 

one, bas encouraaeo ano aioeo me 

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bano's memory oeserves 

tbis recognition 


Rev. John Newland Maffitt— Extracts from his Autobiography— Early 
boyhood— Emotional nature and conversion to Methodism— Sketch 
of him by A. H. Redford, D. D.— Personal appearance and persuasive 
eloquence make him the most popular preacher in the Emerald Isle- 
Marriage— Graduate of Trinity College— Family— Fields of Work— 
Western Methodist issued, now The Christian Advocate— Personal 
incident of his work in Tennessee— Elected Chaplain to the lower 
House of Congress— "Historic Eras"— Death— Children 19 


John Newland Maffitt the younger— Birth and parentage— Adopted by 
his uncle, Dr William Maffitt, and brought to "Ellershe, near 
Fayetteville, N. C— Sent to White Plains, N. Y— At age of thirteen 
enters U. S Navy— Letters home— Ordered to U. S. frigate Con- 
stitution, "Old Ironsides"— Extracts from "Nautilus, or Cruising 
under Canvas," being the relation of the events of his three years 
cruise in the Constitution— Visit of Queen of Greece to the frigate- 
Duel and its sad consequences — Examination 3° 


Promotion and visit home — Ordered to the Vandalia — Letters home — 
Appointed acting lieutenant— Ordered to U. S. frigate Macedonian — 
Letter relating events of cruise in Gulf of Mexico 52 


Marriage — Ordered to the Navy Yard, Pensacola — Birth and baptism 
of "Florie" on board Macedonian — Detached and ordered to the 
U. S. Coast Survey under Prof. F. R. Hassler— Death of Professor 
Hassler— Prof. A. D. Bache, LL. D., takes charge— Report of 
Professor Bache— His tribute to Professor Hassler — His report of 
work of Survey for year 1844 — Report of work for 1845, with 
mention of work of Lieut. John N. Maffitt on the Survey 56 


Removal to Baltimore— His first son, Eugene Anderson, born — Tragedy 
— Report of Professor Bache embodying work of Lieutenant Maffitt 
in the hydrography of Boston Harbor, 1847 — Hydrography of Nan- 

8 Contents 

tucket shoals for 1848 and 1849 — Hyclrographic Survey of Hatteras 
cove and inlet, N. C, and report and sketch of same by Lieut. Comdg. 
Maffitt — Survey of Charleston Harbor — Maffitt's report in relation 
to a lighthouse at Bull's Bay, S. C. — Discoveries by Coast Survey, 
1850 — '"Maffitt's Channel" — Maffitt made assistant on Coast Survey — 
Survey of Beaufort Harbor and Cape Fear bars, N. C. — Maffitt's 
letters in regard to lights, beacon, and buoys on coasts of North and 
South Carolina — His sailing directions 64 


Arrival at Smithville, N. C, of surveying party of Maffitt in U. S. 
schooner Gallatin — Reception by citizens and comments on life at 
this resort — Maffitt organizes dramatic company — Dramatis personam 
— Letter of Dr. W. G. Curtis — Incidents of sojourn — Description of 
an entertainment by the "Lord of Orton" 85 


Report of Professor Bache for year 1852 — Hydrographic work of Lieu- 
tenant Commanding Maffitt for year on the coast of Virginia, North 
and South Carolina and Georgia 96 


Second marriage and return to Smithville, N. C. — Interesting report of 
work of Lieutenants Commanding Maffitt and Craven in hydrography 
of Gulf Stream — Compliment of zeal and perseverance of Acting 
Master J. Pembroke Jones — Changes noticed on Cape Fear bar by 
Maffitt — His work on hydrography on coast of South Carolina and 
Georgia 99 


Beaufort Harbor — Survey completed — Survey of James River, Va., and 
interesting reports of Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt on the survey 
of Beaufort Harbor, N. C. 106 


Interesting report on discoveries in survey of Gulf Stream by Lieu- 
tenants Commanding Maffitt and Craven, 1855 — Destiny of Cape 
Fear country, its resources and enterprises, dependent in great 
degree on facility of entrance to its river — Survey on coasts of 
South Carolina and Georgia — Hurricane of 1854 — Officers of party 
of Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt, Acting Masters S. B. Luce, 
Hunter Davidson and others — Work of years 1856 and 1857 — Loss 
to the Coast Survey of services of four of its chiefs — Final work and 
detachment of Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt — Ordered to com- 
mand U. S. brig D nip hin 114 

Contents 9 


'•Retiring Board" or Naval Commission and their arbitrary and unjust 
proceedings— "Case" of Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. N., before the 
Naval Court of Inquiry requested by him — Abstract of his services — 
Testimony of witnesses — Orders offered in testimony by Lieutenant 
Maffitt, etc. — Promptly restored and placed in command of the U. S. 
brig Dolphin — Extract of decree of U. S. District Court in trial of 
slaver Echo captured by the Dolphin while under command of 
Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt — Letter 136 


Removes to James River, Va. — Family of Col. J. Jones — Disposes of his 
home and removes to Washington, D. C. — Life in Washington — Men 
of mark and hours of relaxation at 1214 K street — Death of Mrs. 
Maffitt — Lieutenant Maffitt ordered to command U. S. steamer 
Crusader — Duties — Capture of slaver Bogota — Description of scenes 
on board — Letters home — Memorandum of captures — Seizure of 
forts below New Orleans — The Crusader's visit to New Orleans and 
Mobile, Ala. — Events of her stay at Mobile, etc. — Secession of 
Alabama — Intention to seize the Crusader by desperadoes frustrated 
— Letter of Lieutenant Craven, U. S. N 204 


Passing of old life and loved associations — Resignation accepted — 
Extracts from private journal — Leaves Washington and starts 
South — Arrives in Montgomery and interviews Mr. Davis — Receives 
a lieutenant's commission with orders to report to Commodore 
Tatnall — Ordered to command the Savannah — Various proposals — 
Coming of Admiral Dupont's powerful fleet and battle of Port Royal, 
S. C. — Joins the staff of Gen. Robert E. Lee — Duties and Incidents — 
Letters home 218 


Ordered to the C. S. steamer Cecile, blockade-runner — Extracts from 
his article on blockade-running in The United Service Magazine — 
Establishment of blockade-running — Passing the blockaders by the 
Cecile — Their phantom forms suddenly appear — The moment of 
trial — Blaze of drummond-light and roar of guns and bursting shells 
— Perils of position — Cecile escapes — Chased by U. S. Steamer — 
Arrival at and departure from Nassau on return trip — Fired upon 
by three Federal men-of-war — Passing out of range, is called on 
deck by call of burning vessel — Goes to rescue — While passing 
between two blockaders is ordered to heave-to, but escapes — Ordered 
to command the Nassau (late Gordon) 228 


Arrives in Nassau and is visited by Lieutenant Low, who presents a 
letter from Captain Bulloch, and gives information in regard to the 
Oreto — Lieutenant Maffitt resigns the Gordon and takes charge of 

10 Contents 

the Oreto — Secretly prepares for sea and sends report to Secretary 
Mallory — Oreto seized and put in Court of Admiralty — The Gordon, 
in charge of Capt. G. Walker, returns — "Florie" and her step-brother 
Laurens return in her — Vessel is captured and "Florie" is taken to 
New York — Presents letter of her father and is treated with courtesy 
and sent home — Letter to Maffitt from Secretary Mallory — Letters 
from Commander Maffitt 238 


Yellow fever in Nassau — Oreto is free and steams out of the harbor, 
Commander Maffitt, and other officers, on board — Lieutenant Strib- 
ling with tender approaches and is taken in tow — Oreto anchors at 
Green Key — Hoisting guns, etc., on board — Herculean task in which 
all join — Important essentials of battery wanting — English colors 
hauled down and Confederate banner raised amid cheers — Florida 
christened — Reported illness of men — Fears of yellow fever epidemic 
confirmed — Starts for Cardenas, Cuba — Sends Lieutenant Stribling 
to Havana for medical aid and nurses — Is taken ill — Given up by 
physicians — Death of step-son, J. Laurens Read — Sails for Havana 
— Decides to enter Mobile Harbor 245 


Sails direct for Mobile — U. S. S. Oneida attempts to cut Florida off, but 
is prevented — Pours broadside into Florida and is followed by other 
ships of the squadron — Terrible baptism of fire continues for more 
than two hours — Final escape — Florida anchors under guns of Fort 
Morgan and is visited by officers of the fort — Hospital ship sent by 
Admiral Buchanan — Letter from Admiral Buchanan, who later visits 
the Florida and compliments the officers and crew — Stribling ill 
with fever — Dies, lamented — Repairs begin — Officers reporting — 
Letter from Navy Department — Long tarry in port unavoidable — 
Captain detached, then restored by action of President — Prepares to 
run through Federal squadron — Succeeds — Is chased, but escapes. . . 252 


"Sea orders" opened — Instructions brief but to the point — Captures the 
brig Estelle, worth over $130,000 — Takes a few articles and burns 
her — Arrives in Havana and coals — Leaves, and captures and burns 
the bark Windward and brig C orris- Ann — Coal reported useless and 
steams for Nassau — Coals and starts for coast of New England — Is 
driven by hurricane across Gulf Stream and much damaged — Poor 
capacity of Florida and badly cut sails — Captures the Jacob Bell — 
Takes captain's wife, passengers, and crew on board the Florida — 
Jacob Bell valued at two million or more — Burns her — Resigns cabin 
to ladies and sleeps on gun-deck — Vituperation and revenge of Mrs. 
Williams, passenger on Jacob Bell — Arrives at Bridgetown, Barba- 
does, and calls on Governor — Appoints Naval Agent — Captures Star 
of Peace, with 850 tons of saltpeter, which is burned — Report of 
Laura Ann — Florida captures Aldabaran and burns her — Captures 
Lapwing and places guns on board with officers and men and Lieu- 
tenant Averett to command 270 

Contents 11 


Captures the M. J. Colcord— Boarded Danish brig Christian and put all 
prisoners on board with liberal provisions — Wrecked and burned 
M. J. Colcord— Seeks Lieutenant Averett and Lapwing— Meets her 
and takes her coal — Lapwing leaks, so revokes orders and directs 
Lieutenant Averett to meet him at Fernando de Noronha— Captures 
Commonwealth, valued at $370,000— Captures Oneida, valued at 
$1,000,000— Captures Henrietta— Reaches island of Fernando de 
Noronha— News of the Alabama— Startled by fire-bell; flames soon 
extinguished — New Governor arrives and requests immediate 
departure of Florida — Florida departs and meets Lapwing— -Lieu- 
tenant Averett detached and Floyd placed in charge with orders to 
anchor under Rocas Island— Florida receives all the Lapzving's coal 
— Captures the Clarence — Lieutenant Read proposes to take her and 
cruise, which is accepted, and he takes charge of the Clarence and 
separates from the Florida 2 °3 


The Florida arrives at Pernambuco, Brazil — Lieutenant Maffitt com- 
municates with the Governor— Governor refuses his request — 
Maffitt's reply and interview with the Governor finally obtains cour- 
tesies of port— Letter to his children— Captures the Crown Point, 
receives passengers and crew and burns her — Proceeds to Rocas 
Island to meet Lapwing—Sad drowning of Dr. Grafton and romance 
connected with him— Captain Maffitt's account of accident— Florida 
sails for Ceara— Letter of Governor of Ceara— Florida captures 
Southern Cross — Captures the Red Gauntlet— Captures the Benj. 
Hoxie and $105,000 in silver bars — Captures V. H. Hill — Captures 
Sunrise— The Florida attacks the U. S. S. Ericsson— She escapes in 
a fog— Capture of IV. B. Nash — Rienzie captured— Paymaster James 
Lynch dies— The Florida salutes the fort at St. Georges and the 
salute is returned — Only salute by a foreign government to the Con- 
federate flag — Note in regard to the same— List of articles sent into 
the Confederacy by the R. E. Lee— A timely present— Letter from 
Secretary Mallory to Commander Maffitt— Appointed a commander, 
C. S. N.— Letters from officers of the Florida 290 


Resignation of Engineer Spidell — Capture of the Francis B. Cutting by 
the Florida— Capture of the Hope and the Anglo-Saxon— Notifica- 
tion from the engineers that repairs to the shaft and machinery of 
the Florida were necessary — Lieutenant Averett landed at Cork, 
Ireland, with orders to proceed to Paris and make known to Mr. 
Slidell the condition and request him to ask permission from the 
French Government for admission to the National dock at Brest — 
Letter of Commander Maffitt to Mr. Slidell— His letter to the 
Admiral of Port of Brest 308 

12 Contents 


Narrative of Monsieur du Belley — He goes to help of Commander 
Maffitt — Excitement and absurd rumors in regard to the Florida — 
Letter demanding from her commander restitution of captured goods 
— Visit to the Admiral of the port — Success of application — Resume 
of the cruise of the Florida published in Ocean de Brest— The officers 
visit the shore and attend the theater — Favorable impression made — 
Attack of the newspapers on the Florida and her officers inspired 
by the slanders of one Marlespine— Maffitt's calm reply and protest — 
The official journal of the Government silences all and fixes the 
status of the Florida and all Confederate vessels thereafter— Maffitt 
compelled to apply for a leave of absence — He and Monsieur du 
Belley dine at Cafe de France — Anecdote 312 


Captain Maffitt applies for a detachment on account of ill health — 
Letters from Commander M. F. Maury, C. S. N., granting the relief 
asked for — Application of crew of Florida — An English visit to the 
Florida — Reception by Captain Maffitt — Has narration of the events 
of the cruise of the Florida — Exhibits book in which all the prizes 
were regularly entered — Gives reasons for his application to be 
relieved — After rest takes command of the blockade-runner Florie 
and returns with a cargo to the Confederacy 321 


Article written by the Hon. Francis C. Lawley, M. P., in London Daily 
Telegraph, inserted by courtesy of Mr. James Sprunt — Mr. Lawley 
takes passage to the South in the Lilian, Capt. J. N. Maffitt in com- 
mand — They leave Nassau for Wilmington — Encounter a vessel 
apparently on fire and go to her rescue — She proves to be a Federal 
cruiser — Description of the Lilian — Approach the Cape Fear and are 
attacked by blockader — Exciting chase of more than two hours — 
Close alignment of blockaders and their formidable approach — The 
Lilian passes them so closely that all marvel at her escape — She 
nearly runs down a launch — Captain Maffitt receives orders to the 
C. S. ram Albemarle — Letter from Gen. Robert E. Lee — Communi- 
cations from Brig.-Gen. L. S. Baker, S. R. Mallory, and others, with 
endorsements, in regard to a contemplated attack on the enemy's 
gunboats by the A Ibemarle — Captain Maffitt ordered to command a 
blockade-runner which proves to be the Ozvl— Instructions of Secre- 
tary Mallory— Statement by Captain Maffitt of the captures made by 
the Florida while under his command — Eugene Anderson Maffitt — 
Tribute to him by Captain J. M. Kell — Letters and dispatches 329 


Blockade-running in the Owl— Arrival at St. Georges— Abortive attack 
on Fort Fisher by Butler — The Owl with return cargo enters the 
Cape Fear— Interviewed by Captain Martin and informed that Fisher 
and the Cape Fear were in the hands of the enemy — The Owl enters 
the harbor of Charleston— Attacked by Federal blockaders and 

Contents 13 

ordered to "heave to" — Mail bags, log-book of Florida, and valuable 
papers sent to the bottom by young officer — The Owl escapes and 
the enemy attack each other — The Ozvl enters port of Galveston, 
Texas — Gets aground and is fired upon by blockaders — With help 
of C. S. Diana, Captain McGarvey, escapes — Appears in damaged 
condition at Nassau, where Susan Beirne is repairing — Interesting 
letter from Capt. J. Pembroke Jones— Joins Maffitt in Havana and 
sails with him in Owl to Halifax — Last orders of Navy Depart- 
ment — Letter to his family by Captain Maffitt — Letter of Hon. J. C. 
Breckinridge and one from Gen. Wm. C. Preston of Kentucky — 
Captain Maffitt obtains command of British merchantman Widgeon 
— Letters to his family 347 


Captain Maffitt resigns the Widgeon and returns to the United States — 
Visits Brooklyn Navy Yard and is cordially received and enter- 
tained — Goes to Wilmington, N. C. — First meeting of the author 
with Captain Maffitt — He purchases a farm and calls it the "Moor- 
ings" — His son Eugene's marriage — I am invited to visit his step- 
daughter and accompany him to the "Moorings" — Overtaken by a 
storm, I am enveloped in cloak of historic fame — The inception of 
"Nautilus, or Cruising Under Canvas" — First chapter and dedication 
of the bantling — Its publication and its agents — Captain Joseph Fry 
and his sad fate — The Cuba or Hornet and its history — Captain 
Maffitt takes her to New York — Her legal status defined — Letter 
from the Cuban Junta — Mr. James Sprunt asked to act as executive 
and his contribution to naval history 359 


Captain Maffitt marries — Visited by friends — Mr. David McRae — His 
letter of thanks and appreciation — His book and description of his 
visit to Captain Maffitt and the latter's career and conversation in 
regard to the late war — A coincidence 377 


Birth of his children and life at the "Moorings"— -Captain Maffitt sum- 
moned as a witness in Court of Inquiry — Admiral Porter relates to 
him the true history of the sinking of the Florida — Report of Capt. 
C. M. Morris of the seizure of the Florida by the U. S. S. Wachusett 
— Letter of Mr. de Videky — Report of Commander N. Collins of 
the attack upon the Florida and her seizure — Interview between 
Admiral Porter and Secretary Seward — Orders to sink the Florida — 
Protest of Brazil and answer of Mr. Seward — Trial and condemna- 
tion of Commander Collins — Secretary G. Welles disapproves the 
sentence — The amende honorable to the Brazilian flag 382 


Captain Maffitt becomes a practical farmer — Literary evenings and 
pursuits — Sketch of Raphael Semmes and one of James W. Cooke, 
and other writings — Carolina Yacht Club — Third North Carolina 

14 Contents 

Regiment Association — Capt. John M. Kell and Silas Bent — Letters 
from Captain Kell and Rev. T. R. Lambert — Also from Col. E. A. 
Anderson, Geo. W. Alexander, and Lieut. S. Graham Stone, an 
officer of the Florida — Letters from a young midshipman of the 
Florida and many from Admiral Preble — Death of Admiral Preble. 397 


Letters from the late President of the Confederacy — Letter from Mrs. 
Davis — Extract from Admiral David D. Porter's, U. S. N., "The 
Naval History of the Civil War"— Tribute to Capt. J. N. Maffitt 413 


Refusal of President Cleveland to confirm the nomination of Captain 
Maffitt to a position in the Custom House — Effect of this disappoint- 
ment — Death of his children, "Florie" and Eugene A. Maffitt — Last 
days — Comments, notices, and tribute of Admiral George Dewey. . . 423 

Index 429 


Facing Page 

Captain John Newland Maffitt, 1884 Frontispiece 

Reverend John Newland Maffitt 19 

Lieutenant John Newland Maffitt, 1840 56 

Captain Maffitt in Uniform of Commander, Confederate 

States Navy, 1863 228 

"Florie" Maffitt 260 

The Florida Capturing the Jacob Bell 274 

Captain John Mcintosh Kell 398 


The "Life" to which these lines are the introduction is the 
outcome of a promise made by the writer to "Florie," eldest 
daughter of Capt. John N. Maffitt. She expressed to me, a 
year before she passed away, her great desire that I prepare for 
publication the life of her father. I urged my unfitness, or 
inability, for the task, but she insisted that I alone could pre- 
pare the record which the public had a right to expect because 
of the part which her father had taken in our great struggle. 
Her request was sealed by her sad death, but it was not until the 
passing of her father, two years later, that I was inspired 
to fulfil my promise, in part, by preparing his obituary notice. 
The urgent necessity of training and educating my young 
children compelled the postponement of any further effort 
in this direction, but not for one moment have I been unmind- 
ful of its demands. It has been ever before me as my life's 
work, a work to be done when other duties permitted the 

My inspiration in this work has been to do justice to my 
husband's memory, and, as much as possible, to eliminate 
myself. Wherever he had uttered a word which memory 
retained, or left a written document or sentence, it has been 
set down. So far as possible he has spoken for himself. My 
work has been to bridge over any hiatus by explanation or 
comment, when such was necessary. 

To the brave and loving hearts who admired him living 
and mourned his death, to the earnest student of "the times 
that tried men's souls," to the seeker after historic truth I 
commit this record of the life of a man whose watchword 
was ever duty, who shrank from no sacrifice in the fulfilment 
of what his conscience required of him, and who never made 

I 8 Preface 

plaint of hardship or loss. My modest abilities cause me to 
shrink from criticism, yet I must brave even this in order 
to perform my duty to the loved spirits who called , me to 
this task. 

In the brief sketch of Rev. John Newland Maffitt, which 
is comprised in the first chapter of this volume, I have been 
dependent upon such meager material as I have been able to 
gather from the gleaning of others, as he had passed to the 
reward of his labors long before I met his son. 

To Dr. Stephen B. Weeks I am indebted for kindly advice 
in regard to my work and a revision of one or two chapters, 
and but for his distant residence in Arizona I would have 
gladly availed myself of his ability and submitted the entire 
work to him. 

E. H. M. 

Reverend John Newland Maffitt 





Rev. John Newland Maffitt — Extracts from his Autobiography — Early boy- 
hood — Emotional nature and conversion to Methodism — Sketch of 
him by A. H. Redford, D. D. — Personal appearance and persuasive 
eloquence make him the most popular preacher in the Emerald Isle — 
Marriage — Graduate of Trinity College — Family — Fields of Work — 
Western Methodist issued, now The Christian Advocate — Personal 
incident of his work in Tennessee — Elected Chaplain to the lower 
House of Congress — "Historic Eras" — Death — Children. 

In an Autobiography of the Rev. John Newland Maffitt 
published in New London, Connecticut, in 1821, Mr. Maffitt 
says that his parents were members of "the Church of 
England," and also that his father "belonged to the Methodist 
Society." He himself was born in Dublin, Ireland, on 
December 28, 1794. A picture of the family mansion in 
Dublin, showing a view of Trinity College in the near 
vicinity, was in the possession of a member of the family 
until quite recently, and I had the pleasure of seeing it. The 
parents of Mr. Maffitt were, he tells us, "rigidly attached to 
the established Church." His father died in his early child- 
hood, leaving him to the guidance of a loving and devoted 
mother. In spite of these pious surroundings, he confesses 
that for a few years he was "wayward and reckless in no 
ordinary degree" ; or perhaps the very struggle against con- 
flicting elements caused him, like a tempest-tossed ship, to 
veer first to one side and then to another. Being of a strongly 
emotional nature, the conflict ended in his joining that earnest 
band of true reformers whom the Church in her deadness 

20 The Life and Services of 

and blindness permitted to go from her, thereby weakening 
her power for good; whereas, perhaps, if wisely dealt with, 
their retention would have purified and awakened the spiritual 
life and zeal of all her members; for, as a writer in the 
Atlanta Constitution of November i, 1891, in commenting 
upon this Autobiography of Rev. Mr. Maffitt, reminds us — 

"In its earliest years Methodism was not so much a church 
as a religious association within the pale of the English 
Church. For a long time its Sabbath services were not held 
during canonical hours, and its ministers and members 
received the sacraments at the hands of the clergy of the 

"John Wesley, the immortal founder, had what savored of 
a superstitious dread of schism. He feared nothing so much, 
unless it was the Devil, about whose personality he entertained 
not even the shred of a doubt. It was the work and weariness 
of his last years to prevent a separation which he clearly 
foresaw was inevitable after his death, and which he provided 
for in that famous legal document, the 'Deed of Declaration,' 
which he enrolled in the Court of Chancery in 1784. 

"Mr. Maffitt's conversion, of which he has furnished full 
details in this Autobiography, bears a close resemblance to 
that of John Bunyan and the later John Newton. Religion 
amongst the old Methodists and the older Puritans was not 
an evolution, but a cataclysm. The line of cleavage between 
the old and the new was abrupt. Maffitt had his share of 
visions and wrestlings, and hand to hand conflicts with 
Apollyon in the Valley of Humiliation. 

"Let not the beardless theologians of the present genera- 
tion," this writer goes on, "mock these experiences of the 
fathers. There may have been a bit of superstition and a 
greater amount of subjectiveness in all this, but when they 
were converted it was from head to heel and from center 
to circumference. It made them the moral heroes who went 
forth to the spiritual conquest of the American wilderness, 
and the moral uplifting of the Cornish miners, and the weavers 

John Newland Maffitt 21 

and spinners of Manchester, and the sailors of the London 
dock-yards. It gave Asbury and McKendree to America, 
Gideon Ousely to Ireland and John Newton and a score like 
him to England." 

In a sketch of Rev. J. N. Maffitt, by A. H. Redford, D. D. 
(published in the Sunday-school Magazine for May and June. 
1876, Nashville, Tennessee), I find the following: "From 
his early childhood he had entertained the impression that he 
would be a preacher * * * a revival in the city of Dublin 
under the ministry of a soldier preacher opened the way for 
him to exercise his gifts; and soon we behold him offering 
hope to the despairing, salvation to the lost, and life to the 
dead. His earnest appeals arrested the ungodly, aroused the 
Church, and brought much fruitage to his Master. 

"Ungenerous criticism determined him again to decline the 
work to which he yet believed himself divinely called, when 
Arthur Noble, the friend and colleague of Gideon Ousely, 
the famous Irish missionary, invited him to meet him in 
Ballymena and travel with him on his missionary route. 
Handsome in person, graceful in his manners, tender in his 
address, and endowed with a powerful and persuasive 
eloquence, he soon occupied a place in the popular thought 
that could be claimed by no other preacher in the Emerald 

"Methodism was held in abhorrence by many in Ireland 
at that time, and Mr. Maffitt suffered great hardships through 
his zeal without knowledge or wisdom in his earlier efforts 
in the cause he had espoused." 

Early in life he had married a young and beautiful girl, 
who joined her influence with that of his mother to dissuade 
him from joining the ministers of the Methodist persuasion. 
Mr. Maffitt had, received a liberal education and was a graduate 
of Trinity College, Dublin. His parents were people of 
wealth, "one sister, Emily, had married into the nobility of 
England and was said to have been the most beautiful woman 
in the United Kingdom, and withal sparkling with wit and 

22 The Life and Services of 

intelligence." Another sister married Dr. Ball, and coming 
to America finally settled in California. This sister was the 
only member of the Rev. Mr. Maffitt's family who was with 
him at the time of his death. An elder brother, Dr. William 
MafBtt, having received letters from a friend in America 
urging him to join him, which he decided to do, the family 
induced Mr. MafBtt to accompany his brother to America. 

In the opening paragraph of his Autobiography Mr. Mafntt 
writes : "From the romantic retreats of far-famed Erin — 
borne on the fickle winds of adverse fortune — a lonely stranger 
brings his might of sorrow, and lays the dew-starred treasure 
at Columbia's feet." 

Dr. William Mafntt settled in North Carolina near Fayette- 
ville, where he and his family lived until their death. 

Rev. Mr. Mafntt remained in New York until his family 
joined him. "In 1822 he offered himself an itinerant preacher 
to the New England Conference, and was admitted on trial. 
His first appointment was with the celebrated George Pickering 
as a conference missionary. In 1823 he was sent to Fairhaven 
and New Bedford, and the following year was the junior 
preacher on the Barnstable circuit. In 1825 he was stationed 
in Dover, and in 1826 in Dover and Somers worth. At the 
Conference of 1827 he was appointed to the city of Boston, 
and in 1828 to Portsmouth, where he continued for two years. 
In 1830 he was returned to the city of Boston and the follow- 
ing year was left without an appointment. 

"During the ten years that Mr. Mafntt traveled as a preacher 
he performed the duties of an itinerant with energy and zeal, 
and in the several fields he occupied success crowned his labors. 
Whether as a missionary carrying the tidings of a Redeemer's 
love to the poor and humble throughout the New England 
Conference, or lifting the standard of the cross in the rural 
districts, or unfurling its crimsoned banner in the capital of 
Massachusetts, we find him not only faithful, but beloved by 
the people he served and gathering on every field stars to 
deck the crown of his rejoicing in the hereafter. 

John Newland Maffitt 23 

"In 1833, in connection with Louis Garrett, he issued in 
the city of Nashville, Tennessee, the first number of the 
Western Methodist, a religious weekly paper, which from that 
period has continued under various names — among the last 
of which is The Christian Advocate — the central organ of the 
M. E. Church South. 

"His fame had preceded him to the West, and wherever 
he preached vast assemblies thronged to hear him, eager to 
catch the words of life as they fell from his lips. As an 
orator he had taken rank with the first preachers of the age. 
and in the horizon of public esteem occupied a commanding 
eminence. It was not merely the fire that lit his eye, nor the 
flashes of genius that sparkled in every portion of his mighty 
appeals, nor his lofty flights of oratory that won for him a 
name scarcely equaled in the history of the pulpit — it was 
the burning zeal that was consuming him, it was his fervent 
piety ; and, above all, it was the unequaled success which threw 
its full-orbed light along his path. Thousands came to hear 
him, and thousands through his instrumentality were converted 
to God. 

"In the autumn of 1833 he entered the Tennessee Con- 
ference, and, with Littleton Fowler, was appointed agent for 
La Grange College. In 1834 he was elected to the chair of 
elocution in that college, where he continued for two years. 
In 1836 he located. 

"In 1837 Mr. Maffitt appeared in Lexington, which he 
pronounced 'one of the most beautiful cities west of the 
mountains,' and entered at once upon the great business of 
his life. He remained here where Edward Stevenson was 
the pastor, upwards of two months, during which time he 
preached almost every day and night. On his first appearance 
in that city every pew in the church was filled, the aisles were 
crowded to their utmost capacity, and the occasion was dis- 
tinguished by a quickened religious interest in the popular 
mind. On the corners of the streets, in the marts of trade, 
in places of business the fame of the preacher was on every 

24 The Life and Services of 

lip, while many were anxiously inquiring the way of life and 
salvation. The city press teemed with his praise, and the entire 
community listened to his earnest sermons coming from his 
great warm Irish heart. 

"Day after day eager throngs came to the house of God to 
be instructed in the way of life, and night after night the altar 
was crowded with sincere penitents, inquiring, 'What must we 
do to be saved ?' In the pulpit, in the social circle, in the street 
he pleaded the cause of his Divine Master, and never seemed 
to weary. 'God forbid that I should glory save in the cross~of 
our Lord Jesus Christ,' was the feeling which animated and 
inspired him in the great and noble work to which he had 
consecrated his energies and his life. 

"In the autumn of 1838, Richard Tydings, who was 
stationed in Louisville, invited Mr. Maffitt to assist him at a 
meeting in his church, which he accepted. He entered upon 
the work in the spirit of his Master, and resolved to succeed. 
Never before had that community been so thoroughly aroused. 
For several months, with the fidelity and zeal for which he was 
distinguished, he continued to preach in that city. The whole 
city, from center to circumference, was moved by the mighty 
influence of divine truth. The high, the low, by scores and 
hundreds, turned to God. Five hundred persons were con- 
verted and added to the church." 

It was either in this city, or in Memphis, Tennessee, that 
an incident took place which Captain Maffitt told me was 
related to him by an eye-witness. In the city at that time, so 
the narrator said, were many desperate characters, gamblers, 
who plied their vocation on the river. Several of these, 
hearing Mr. Maffitt preach, gave up their practices, but some 
of the worst, finding their business suffering, went to the 
church where Mr. Maffitt was preaching, with the determina- 
tion to kill him. Their leader, while Mr. Maffitt was in the 
midst of his discourse, aimed his pistol directly at him and 
fired. The bullet passed so near Mr. Maffitt's head as to sever 

John Newland Maffitt 25 

a lock of his hair, yet he took no notice but finished his sermon 
and coolly gave out the hymn. The man, who had looked to 
see him drop, was so overcome with surprise, admiration, and 
superstitious fear that before he left the building he and his 
comrades had renounced their evil life and afterward assisted 
Mr. Maffitt in his labors. 

In 1 84 1 Mr. Maffitt was elected chaplain to the lower House 
of Congress. There he lost none of the reputation he had won 
in the West. 

W. J. Scott, D. D., in his delightful book, "Historic Eras," 
says, "Maffitt in the pulpit had a striking resemblance to 
Curran at the bar/" Another friend, a law student in the 
office of Hon. Ogden Hoffman, and greatly distinguished on 
the bench, a man of thorough culture and decided gifts as an 
elocutionists, tells Dr. Scott that Maffitt's delivery was fault- 
less, and word painting unrivaled by any minister to whom he 
had ever listened. 

"The question has often been asked," writes Dr. Redford, 
"Why was it that the labors of John Newland Maffitt were so 
greatly blessed? Mr. Maffitt was a man of one work. The 
glory of God and the salvation of sinners occupied all his 
thoughts and controlled all his actions. He seemed to think 
of nothing else. We have frequently known him, after 
preaching in the morning, to devote the afternoon to religious 
conversation with penitents, and then preach again in the 
evening, and afterward spend hours at the altar, and then 
return late, not yet to sleep, but to think of the best method 
of achieving success. We have known him to rise frequently 
during the night to pen a thought that had occurred to his 
mind, or to kneel in prayer before God. His responsibility 
to God and his duty to man absorbed every thought. 

"Wherever he labored he not only expected but resolved 
to succeed; and his boldness and zeal inspired the confidence 
of the members of the church, whom he expected and required 
to cooperate with him. He labored too with an energy that 

26 The Life and Services of 

never flagged. He seemed never to grow weary. He was no 
respecter of persons. Whether sin was found in high or low 
places, in the most scathing manner he rebuked it. He 
stripped it of all its covering and exposed it in all its hideous- 
ness. He was faithful to God and earnest in his efforts to 
save the souls of his fellow-men." 

In the spring of 1850, while conducting a mission near 
Mobile, Alabama, Mr. Maffitt was taken ill at the house of 
Maj. Reuben Chamberlain. "Medical attention was procured 
without delay. Dr. E. P. Gaines administered an opiate and 
forbade his talking. He spoke but little afterward, and died 
May 28, 1850. A post-mortem examination by the celebrated 
Dr. Nott of New Orleans revealed a broken heart. On one 
side of it there were three holes ; the other had literally burst." 

In Frank Leslie's Sunday Magazine for March, 1880, there 
is an article, "Maffitt's Monument at Mobile," from which 
I copy the following: "Nearly thirty years ago the mortal 
remains of John Newland Maffitt were buried in Magnolia 
Cemetery, Mobile. A durable monument has been erected and 
put in its proper place. Though not costly, it is neat, tasteful, 
and appropriate. It is a thick slab of marble, gracefully carved, 
and placed upright on a block of granite. The inscription 
was kindly furnished by Bishop McTyeire. It is as follows : 

"John Newland Maffit. 

A Methodist Preacher. 

Born in Dublin, Ireland, December 28, 1794. 

Came to the United States in 1819. 

Chaplain of Congress in 1841. 

Died in Mobile, Alabama, May 28, 1850. 

'He that winneth souls is wise.' " 

I have been told by an eye-witness that Mr. Maffitt on one 
occasion in Brooklyn, New York, preached to three thousand 
persons. My husband heard him once when he preached in 
Baltimore, and again in Washington, D. C, where his father 
had to be lifted into the building through a window over the 
heads of the waiting crowd. 

John Newland Maffitt 27 

Below is given No. 8 of his "Lays of Zion," that, like the 
poet's eye, glances from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven." 
He calls it 

"the spirit dove. 

"Fly away to the promised land, sweet dove, 

Fly away to the promised land, 
And bear these sighs to the friends I love, 

The happy, the beautiful band. 
Deep gloom hath saddened ray weary breast, 

With sorrow my heart is stirred, 
I long to hear from the land of the blest : 

O fly to their bowers, sweet bird ! 

"O fly to their bowers, sweet dove, and say, 

The light of hope is on me now, 
That I pant to list to a seraph's lay 

With bright glory upon my brow; 
I feel that this world is not my home, 

An angel's sweet voice I have heard — 
It calls from beyond the dark lone tomb : 

fly to their bowers, sweet bird ! 

"I will wait thy coming at dawn, sweet dove, 

1 will wait thy coming at eve ; 

But bear some news from the friends I love, 

And then I will cease to grieve. 
I could spring from this dungeon on wings of love, 

I could meet death's conquering sword, 
But I cannot stay from my friends alone : 

O fly to their bowers, sweet bird ! 

"John N. Maffitt." 

The friend, who sent me the above verses in print, writes, 
"Maffitt wielded a graceful and glowing pen, inspired some- 
times, it seemed, even as his gifted tongue, touched by live 
coals from the altar. The rarest eloquence is traditionary, 
but, put it on the living page, and commensurate with letters 
will be its life. Maffitt' s beautiful thoughts, especially those 
in verse, for he was a poet not only made but born, should 
be gathered, and as orient pearls be strung." 

Rev. Mr. Maffitt had seven children. The eldest, Eliza, 
married for her first husband Thomas Budd, son of Samuel 
W. Budd, of Pemberton, New Jersey. They had one lovely 

28 The Life and Services of 

daughter, Carrie Budd, who became the wife of Captain 
Tucker, nephew of Beverly Tucker of Virginia. Two 
daughters, both very lovely, were born to them — Lila, or 
Eliza, for her grandmother, and May Tucker. Lila married 
Horace Morse of Texas, and is dead. May married E. L. 
Lappington of Santa Anna, Texas. 

Mrs. Eliza Budd married for her second husband Dr. 
Alexander of Texas. She was celebrated for her beauty and 
intellectual gifts. She was called "The Belle of the Brazos." 
The following was written to me by Rev. C. A. Malmsbury 
of Camden, New Jersey, an old and devoted friend of the 
family, who has since died, but who, before his death, had 
prepared for publication a Life of Rev. John Newland Maffitt. 
Our correspondence covered a period of several years and 
continued until his sudden death. He wrote that it was his 
life purpose to publish this biography. In one of these letters 
he writes in regard to Mrs. Eliza Maffitt Alexander, "What 
a beautiful woman she was, how lady-like in all her movements 
and manners — and how gentle and kind — how cultured and 
intelligent. Heaven shaped her in its finest mould, and 
touched her face and form with traces of peculiar beauty and 
loveliness ; her hair wavy, her cheeks rosy, brown eyes, and ripe 
lips, brow lustrous." She retained this beauty until the day 
of her death in 1874. 

Matilda Caroline and Henrietta, children of Rev. Mr. 
Maffitt, were twins. Matilda married Judge R. D. Johnson 
of Galveston, Texas, and was said to be so gifted that she 
often wrote her husband's speeches in court. Henrietta 
became the second wife of Gen. Mirabeau Lamar, second 
President of Texas. She was a most beautiful and lovely 
woman, the only one of Captain Maffitt's sisters whom I knew 
personally. A volume of her husband's poems is before me 
in which he sings her praises and many virtues. 

"Like yon declining sun, my life 
Is going down all calm and mild, 
Illumined by an angel wife, 
And sweetened by a cherub-child." 

John Newland Maffitt 29 

Bound with this volume is the following tribute: 


To Mrs. Henrietta Lamar, 

on presenting her with a copy of the Knickerbocker Gallery. 

"Fair daughter of a gifted sire. 
Whose lips were touched with hallowed fire, 
And glowed with light and thought intense, 
The very soul of eloquence : 
And, happier still, the cherished bride 
Of one who is his country's pride — 
To whom the blended wreaths belong 
Of valor, statesmanship, and song: 
Fair lady, unto thee so blest, 
And worthy of such noble love — 
So doubly honored, so caressed, 
So prized all other forms above — 
To thee whose sweetly cultured mind 
By every virtue is refined — 
This wreath of kindred thoughts I send 
A tribute from thy husband's friend. 
Mobile, February, 1855. A - B - Meek." 

One child was born of this happy union, a daughter, Loretta, 
who married Samuel Calder, son of Judge Calder of Rich- 
mond, Texas. 

Other children of Rev. John Newland Maffitt were a son, 
Frederic, who married Miss Caroline McKeen of Mobile, 
Alabama. They had two children, Walter C. Maffitt, who 
married Miss Lottie Jenkins of Charlotte, North Carolina, 
and had six children, three of whom are dead ; and a daughter, 
Matilda, who married Mr. Benjamin Crew of Atlanta, Georgia. 
She was so lovely a woman that her early death in 1886 was 
mourned by almost the entire city. She left three children — 
Roberta Southerland, who married Mr. Henry Inman of 
Atlanta; Ben Lee; and another daughter, Helen. 

Another son of Rev. Mr. Maffitt, William H. Maffitt, was 

married when quite young to Miss Julia of St. Louis. 



John Newland Maffitt the younger — Birth and parentage — Adopted by his 
uncle, Dr. William Maffitt, and brought to ''Ellerslie," near Fayette- 
ville, N. C. — Sent to White Plains, N. Y. — At age of thirteen enters U. 
S. Navy — Letters home — Ordered to U. S. frigate Constitution, ''Old 
Ironsides" — Extracts from "Nautilus, or Cruising Under Canvas," being 
the relation of the events of his three years' cruise in the Constitution 
— Visit of Queen of Greece to the frigate — Duel and its sad conse- 
quences — Examination. 

John Newland Maffitt, the younger, was the third child of 
John Newland Maffitt and Ann Carnic, his wife. He was 
born at sea, February 22, 1819. The Rev. Mr. Maffitt had 
preceded his family to America, and his wife, in her anxiety 
to join her husband, bravely risked the voyage, then a matter 
of three months' "sailing under canvas." Thus, as my husband 
said, he was born a son of old Neptune, and was in duty 
bound to offer his allegiance as such. The Maffitts' first home 
was in Connecticut, where in 1824, when John Newland, Jr., 
was five years old, his uncle, Dr. William Maffitt, visited the 
family. Finding his brother in straitened circumstances, he 
begged to adopt his son John, and upon obtaining the consent 
of his parents, Dr. Maffitt brought him to his home, 
"Ellerslie," near Fayetteville, North Carolina. Some years 
passed in this happy home of his boyhood, of which he said 
in his last days, "I love every blade of grass in the dear old 

His early friend and playmate. Col. Duncan K. McRae, has 
told me that even in his early boyhood John Maffitt was a 
leader in all their sports — his expression was, "Maffitt was a 
born leader." He lived at Ellerslie for some years, going into 
Fayetteville to school. 

When he reached his ninth year his uncle decided to send 
him to White Plains, New York, for his education, and as a 

John Newland Maffitt 31 

little stripling he was sent away on the old-time stage coach, 
with his ticket pinned to his jacket. On his arrival in White 
Plains much curiosity was manifested to see the little boy who 
had come alone all that distance from his Southern home. 

He remained at this school, under the tuition of Professor 
Swinburn, until he was thirteen years old, when his father's 
friends obtained for him a commission as a midshipman in the 
United States Navy. His first commission was dated 
February 25, 1832. 

In a letter now before me, written by my husband to his 
Uncle William and dated Pensacola, Florida, January 7, 1833. 
he writes : "Last March I entered the Navy and in September 
received orders to the U. S. sloop-of-war St. Louis, on a cruise 
to the West Indies. 8th of December we anchored in Pen- 
sacola to overhaul ship and get in sea stores." 

The letter is a most affectionate one and mentions his having 
met very unexpectedly a friend of the family in Pensacola 
and his great delight in hearing about the Fayetteville friends. 
"When I met Mrs. Cameron I could hardly contain myself; 
why, it afforded me the greatest pleasure I have experienced 
for some time, but how much greater and unbounded would be 
my pleasure to see you and Eliza" (his cousin, Dr. Maffitt's 
daughter). Later he wrote, "We are on a cruise to the 
Windward Islands and the first port we make will be Havana." 

This letter and several others in my possession of about 
the same date are ancient-looking affairs, without the modern 
stamp or envelope, the letter being folded into shape and 
sealed with red wax. 

Another letter dated Pensacola Navy Yard, April 26, 1833, 
mentions his great disappointment in not receiving letters from 
home while in Havana, and that he had written twice to his 
uncle and Cousin, Eliza. He reproaches her with having for- 
gotten "that wild cousin of yours who used to run about the 
woods like a Mohawk Indian," and asks her to tell old Mr. 
McPherson that the wild little fellow who used to protect his 

32 The Life and Services of 

cherry trees from the red-head woodpeckers is now protecting 
"our country's commerce on the great ocean." 

January 30, 1834, he obtained a leave of absence, and in 
September or October of the same year he was ordered to the 
Navy Yard, Boston. 

On the 17th of February, 1835, he was ordered to the 
U. S. frigate Constitution, "Old Ironsides" of historic fame. 
She was the flagship of the squadron commanded by Commo- 
dore Elliot, then fitting out for the Mediterranean. 

In the opening chapter of his bantling "Nautilus; or. 
Cruising under Canvas," Captain Maffitt describes his advent 
on board the Constitution. In fact, that whole book is but a 
relation of this Mediterranean cruise, which lasted three years. 
In transcribing some of the chapters from this work I am but 
giving the history of this portion of his life. 

Nautilus; or, Cruising Under Canvas 
chapter 1 

About the middle of February, 1835, a frigate of historic renown, 
[the Constitution, "Old Ironsides"] lay moored off the Naval Hos- 
pital in Norfolk harbor, ready for sea, and under orders for the 
Mediterranean — a station eagerly sought for by the officers of the 
Navy. Though but recently commissioned, everything about her 
indicated the perfect man-of-war from truck to keelson, fore- 
castle to quarterdeck. 

The meal pennant floated at the fore — a signal that the crew 
were at dinner. About one bell a quartermaster reported to the 
officer of the deck, "A shore boat coming alongside, sir, with a 
young officer." 

The stranger passed the gangway, made the official salute, and 
announced himself as under orders to the ship. 

"Report to the first lieutenant, sir," responded the officer of 
the deck. "I think you will find him in the cabin." He called one 
of the midshipmen of the watch and directed him to escort the 
stranger to the executive. There was a mutual recognition 
between the youngsters. 

"John Maffitt ! I am delighted to see you. How are you ? We 
all will be charmed to add you to our number." 

John Newland Maffitt 33 

"Thank you, Anderson. It was no easy matter to obtain orders 
to this pet frigate ; but, as you see, I have succeeded. Who are on 
board — any of my old friends?" 

"Yes, quite a number — Randal, Benton, Hubly, and others with 
whom you have sailed. They will be pleased to hear of your 
assignment to the frig-ate. Report to the first lieutenant — I'll attend 
to your baggage. Then hasten to the port steerage, where you'll 
be in time for grub. Our fellows have a first rate spread to-day." 

After John's orders were countersigned by the commanding 
officer, he proceeded to the steerage. If experience had not taught 
him the course to steer for that famous locality of a man-of-war, 
the boisterous laughter of a crowd of boy-officers would have indi- 
cated the exact spot. Ere descending the ladder, he paused and 
smiled at the familiar sounds. 

The steerage is not inaptly termed the "Reefer's Den," as here 
the young wild animals are caged, fed and berthed ; here they roar 
and kick up mischief generally. Blow high or blow low, these 
devil-may-care components of a man-of-war heed not the weather, 
nor, in fact, anything that is above or beneath the ship. 

Entering the port mess-room our young gentleman found the 
midshipmen at dinner. Randal, an old shipmate and friend, occu- 
pied the caterer's seat, and was so interested in the business of 
uncorking a bottle of wine, that this addition to their number was 
unnoticed until John made his presence known. 

"Hello, Randal ! Ah, my boy, ever tinkering with a corkscrew !" 

"John Maffitt ! by all the rosy gods !" 

The exclamation was chorussed by the entire mess, which wel- 
comed a friend with the enthusiasm characteristic of the reefer. 

"How are you, Benton ? — and you, too, Hubly ? Anderson told 
me I'd find a lot of old friends ; and the sight is good for weak 
eyes. Give me a camp-stool, boy. Side out, some of you ! I'm 
going to pitch in, for I see Randal has provided a regular ban- 
quet. Wine, too! By Jove! if some of the old magnates of the 
service were witnesses of this luxurious repast in a reefer's den, 
they'd turn green with anger, and growl out, 'The Navy is going to 
the devil !' " Seating himself, the bottle was passed, and Maffitt's 
health drunk with all the honors. 

"You know, John," said Randal, "Benton's sister was married 
a few days ago; and, understanding that reefers were subject to 
'short commons,' like a bonny good bride and considerate sister, 
she sent him several hampers filled with spoils from the wedding 
frolic. We appreciate the fair, and have drunk to her health and 
happiness now and hereafter." 

34 The Life and Services of 

"A good act should be duplicated," said John. "I'll join you 
fellows in a repeater. Now tell me, Randal, what are the pros- 
pects of sailing?" 

"On the arrival of old 'Bruin, the bear' — our good sachem of 
the flag — we'll up anchor and pay our debts with a flying foretop- 
sail," responded Randal. 

"Why the application of such a beastly sobriquet to our com- 

"Well, my lad, I rather fancy your first interview will convince 
you of the aptness of the nickname. You must know," he contin- 
ued, "I made my first cruise on the coast of Brazil under 'Bruin.' 
He has no more consideration for a midshipman than for a poodle. 
Our fellows were constantly irritated by his extremely bad habit 
of proclaiming us 'd — d young whelps.' This unceasing outrage 
upon our official dignity was submitted to until forbearance 
ceased to be a virtue ; so we summoned an indignation meeting in 
the steerage, and a committee of ten were appointed to draft a 
complaint to the Secretary of the Navy. Reams of paper were 
produced. After much deliberation, reference to various diction- 
aries, and so on, the erudite communication was concocted, copied, 
and signed. No one seemed anxious to 'beard the animal in his 
lair' ; so straws were drawn, and your humble servant became the 
victim. You may well imagine I did not approach the cabin with 
eagerness. However, I screwed my courage to the sticking point, 
and handed him the document, requesting that he would forward 
the same to the Navy Department. 

"An assenting grunt and ferocious glance nearly lifted me out 
of my boots. Depend upon it, the interview was not by me pro- 
longed, for I left with the most extraordinary alacrity. Some time 
elapsed ere the return mail arrived. One morning, about eleven 
o'clock, the orderly summoned the officers of the steerage to 
appear in the cabin. Like a party of criminals proceeding to the 
guillotine, we appeared before the presence. 

"The 'bear' stood in front of the quaking crowd ; in his hand 
was an open letter. Sternly he eyed us for a moment, and then, 
in no gentle voice, exclaimed, 'The Secretary of the Navy ac- 
knowledges the receipt of your report, my velvet-eared young gen- 
tlemen. He does not approve of my calling you "d — d young 
whelps." ' There was a momentary pause. Every one felt that 
our cause had triumphed, and the commodore had been officially 
rebuked. Suddenly he reared his huge body to its fullest capacity, 
and, in a voice of thunder, roared out, 'But you are d — d young 
zvhelps! Go!' 

John Newland Maffitt 35 

'There was no necessity for pointing his long muscular ringer 
to the door, for none stood upon the order of going, but fled with 
speed and consternation. 

"No relief followed the action of the Navy Department, as Bruin 
continued to indulge in the epithet constantly, with a malicious 
twinkle of his wicked gray eyes. We bore the reflection upon our 
official dignity very meekly; nor did any one suggest another 
'round robin' to the Secretary." 

"Not a very flattering description of our commodore!" said 
John. "Has he no redeeming traits to offset these unpleasant 
peculiarities ?" 

"Yes," said Randal ; "he is an expert seaman, and occasionally 
exhibits some kindness; but such manifestations are like angel's 
visits — few and far between." 

"I fear," said John, "under his command our cruise will prove 
anything but agreeable." 

"As to that," replied Randal, "you know we do not mess or 
sleep with him. On the quarterdeck he can roar at and pitch into 
us without stint, particularly if we indulge in kid gloves — which, 
I assure you, are the special abhorrence of the old chap. How- 
ever, there is one consolation — he is no niggard in granting leave." 

Dinner concluded, the gentlemen repaired to the starboard bri- 
dalport — the midshipman's resort for indulging in the luxury of 
the Havana. 

While pleasantly passing the time in conversation, and soothed 
by the agreeable weed, the reunion was interrupted by the pas- 
sage of the Washington steamer, from which a loud, stern voice 
was heard, 

"Send my barge on shore !" 

"Ay, ay, sir!" responded the officer of the deck. * * * 
The boat was soon dispatched, and after a brief absence returned 
with the broad pennant in the bow, indicating that the chief was 
coming on board. The usual etiquette was observed, of assem- 
bled officers, marine guard, and rolling drum to receive him. 


Saturday night at sea — The reefers over the punch bowl— "Sweethearts 
and Wives," and "Home, Sweet Home" — Revelry within and a gale 
blowing up without. 

The frigate Nautilus, or Constitution, is at sea. The brave ves- 
sel breasts the rolling billows, and Neptune claims his usual tribute 

36 The Life and Services of 

from the uninitiated. Merciless are the tormenting "oldsters" over 
the sufferings of the sea-sick boys, who, if dry land could just then 
be reached, would gladly abandon naval glory with all its romance 
and excitement. But they are in for it, and the superabundant 
bile is offered up as a midshipman's first libation to the uncom- 
promising ocean. 

In a few days this introductory episode ended ; then came the 
ravenous appetite for "grub" and the longing for the steerage 
pastimes of tricks and jollity. 

"Fellows," said Benton, who was a tall, gawky scion of Ken- 
tucky, "this is our first Saturday night at sea; let us do justice to 
the same, in accordance with the time-honored custom dating from 
the ancient days of Admiral Benbow. Boy," continued he, address- 
ing a son of Afric's torrid clime (who would never look upon 
his fortieth summer again ) , "clear the wreck ! — produce the 
tureen ! — fly to the galley before the lights are 'doused' and bring 
a gallon of hot water ! — let us have some sugar, a lump of butter, 
some cloves; and, Tom, produce your 'white eye' (i. e., ship's 

"Ay, ay!" growled Tom, who, as "master's mate" of the spirit- 
room, made it a religious duty to secure his perquisites. 

The water was brought, the hot punch made, and all who were 
not on duty gathered around the table. 

"Well, gentlemen," said Benton, "fill up, and we'll drink to a 
jolly cruise, a happy return and speedy promotion." 

This pleasant toast was quaffed in a bumper. A song being 
called for, Hubly produced his guitar, and, having adjusted the 
strings, inquired what the nature of his music should be — "love, 
murder, or 'choragic' ?" 

Benton, who was one of the controlling spirits of the mess, 

"Well, old fellow, the next sentiment, you know, is by custom 
and feeling, 'Sweethearts and Wives,' in honor of the night we 
celebrate. Knowing that several of our messmates are spoony, 
we'll take a pull at the sentimental halyards first. So, bouse 
away, my boy, and when the next song comes, with a hearty 
chorus we'll all heave at the bars !" 

Hubly came from the Quaker State, and was a poetical, good- 
looking youth, who was by no means an indifferent performer on 
both the violin and the guitar. In a clear, harmonious voice he 
sang Moore's exquisite melody of "Farewell, but whenever you 
welcome the hour." The silence in the steerage gave evidence of 
an appreciative audience ; and the guitar accompaniment sounded 

John Newland Maffitt 37 

agreeably, though mingling strangely with the moaning of the 
wind as it came in purr's from the northward and eastward. 

At the conclusion of the song, John joined the festive board and 
contributed not a little to the general hilarity. Again Benton 
rapped upon the table. He reminded the revellers that "Saturday 
night" at sea always aroused reminiscences, particularly in the 
bosom of naval officers, who in bidding their native land good- 
night knew that three long and changeful years must elapse in the 
eventful circle of time ere the sight of that loved soil would again 
gladden their eyes. 

All hands were primed, and the sapling Kentuckian rose to his 
feet. Dexterously holding his steaming glass with the disen- 
gaged hand, he gave an oratorical flourish, and thus addressed his 
messmates : 

"Well, boys, some days ago we were all basking in the sun- 
shine of happy associations ; loved ones clustered around us ; but 
the parting came, and those who had wives embraced them. That 
was denied us, as marriage, with midshipmen, is as yet tabooed. 
So for lack of these charming appendages to manhood, we pitched 
into the rosy lips of our sweethearts. I boldly make the assertion 
that we did of a verity perform this delicious ceremony; for I 
doubt if there ever existed a reefer whose appointment reached 
the comprehensive reality of six weeks, who did not, no matter 
how juvenile, feel, under the pressure of his eagle and anchor- 
buttons, sufficiently matured to indulge in the luxury of a lady- 

"Some are Oriental in their tastes, and have sweethearts by the 
score, like unto our friend John ; but the old Benbow sentiment 
admits of no qualification, and so we'll swallow it whole. And 
now, my hearties, I give you, without the heel-taps, the good old 
nautical Saturday-night toast — 'Sweethearts and Wives !' " 

It is needless to say the sentiment was rapturously applauded ; 
and when the rapping had ceased, Hubly, with guitar in hand, 
led off, the boys joining in this hearty chorus : 

"All hands ahoy to the anchor. 
From friends and relations we go. 
Vast grieving — why, d — n it, it's folly, boys ; 
Up with the anchor, ye, yo ! 
The boatswain takes care of the riggin', 
Especially when he gets drunk ; 
The bobstay supplies him with swigging, 
The cable he cuts up for old junk, 
So sing away, haul away, jolly boys!" etc. 

38 The Life and Services of 

At this moment the ship gave a lurch, and away to the lee-scuppers 
went midshipmen, tureen, tumblers, and hot stuff. The crash 
below was deafened by the confusion on deck. Sails flapped from 
the yards, cracking like cart whips ; and the shouts of the officers 
were indistinctly mingled with the howl of the wind that roared 
as if ten thousand demons were assailing the ship in their fury. 

The preceding extract from "Nautilus," and those to follow, 
are given as being appropriately a part of the life of John 
Newland Maffitt at this period, and also as being descriptive 
of the life that with the introduction of the use of steam into 
the Navy entirely passed away. 

The following extract is from 


On the following morning extra attention to the neatness of the 
ship was bestowed, in anticipation of a visit from the King and 
Queen of Greece. John Maffitt as commodore's aid received orders 
to prepare the barge, and hold himself in readiness to convey the 
royal party on board. At ten o'clock fifteen fine, hardy-looking 
seamen, and the aid, in full dress, manned the barge and left for 
the Piraeus mole. 

A few moments after arriving at the landing, a carriage, 
escorted by a troop of Bavarian cavalry, drew up at the head of 
the mole, followed by another. From the first descended King 
Otho, dressed in the uniform of a Bavarian general and decorated 
with the order of St. Hubertus. He handed from the carriage 
his young and beautiful Queen, arrayed in the romantic costume, 
of the country. Her dark brown hair was set off to advantage by 
the richly embroidered red cap and falling silk tassel. Her jacket 
of crimson velvet displayed to perfection her exquisitely rounded 
shoulders, full bust and tapering waist, girdled with a Persian 
scarf of blue silk. Her snow white skirt fell midway between the 
knee and ankle, displaying limbs covered with rich red velvet 
leggings, highly embroidered to the instep, and meeting tiny glazed 
slippers of Parisian make. 

Accompanying the Queen was Madam Wiley, an English lady, 
who acted as the grand dame of the palace ; and also a daughter of 
Marco Bozzaris, who was a tall, handsome young lady, with a 

John Newland Maffitt 39 

straight, classical profile. The celebrated Hydriot, Admiral 
Miaulis, and a manly youth, the son of Marco Bozzaris, attended 
upon the King. 

They entered the barge, John handing the Queen to her seat 
with that modest assurance peculiar, we believe, to all midshipmen. 

On the passage to the ship a slight breeze blew the spray of the 
oars over the stern-sheets, sprinkling the party; whereupon John 
gallantly threw his cloak around her Majesty. 

On the quarter-deck of the vessel were gathered the officers. 
The marine guard presented arms, the band performed the national 
air of Greece, and the reception took place. After the personal 
presentation in the cabin was over, the royal party inspected the 
ship, and appeared to be delighted. More especially so was 
Admiral Miaulis, who was minute in his inquiries, and closely 
examined the equipments and armament of the ship. 

Refreshments were handed around, but, unfortunately, nothing 
inviting was presented. As for the ice-cream, the rascally boatman 
who brought it on board had upset the freezer, and turned it back 
again well seasoned with salt. Of course, the Queen did not 
enjoy the mixture, and put it aside with quiet delicacy. 

Dancing was said to be her particular weakness ; so on an inti- 
mation from her Majesty, the band struck up an inspiring waltz. 
Away went the royal pair over the deck. When the music paused, 
the Queen sent young Bozzaris to the commodore to express her 
desire to waltz with him. The embarrassed old gentleman 
apologized and referred to his aid as his deputy in all such 
indulgences. The young gentleman responded, with alacrity, for 
his commander, and whirled her Grecian Majesty around with as 
much zest as if she had been a senorita at the masque balls of 
Port Mahon. 

The visit was protracted until a late hour, the time passing 
pleasantly in exhibitions of naval gunnery, boarding, repelling 
boarders, etc. When the party manifested their desire to depart, 
the barge was again placed at their service. 

This time John waited not for the intrusive spray, but again 
enveloped the Queen in his cloak. After landing, he escorted her 
to her carriage, where he received her thanks, given with a sweet 
smile, many complimentary remarks, and an invitation to visit at 
the palace. 

In connection with the above I give the following extract 
from a letter to my husband from the late Admiral George H. 

40 The Life and Services of 

Preble, who was a shipmate and life-long- friend of Captain 

Commandant's Office, U. S. Navy Yard. 
Philadelphia, January 29th, 1875. 
My dear Maffitt : 

* * * Lately I had presented to me the speech of Commo- 
dore Jesse D. Elliot, in Hagerstown, Maryland, November 14, 
1843. Have you seen it? It is a curious resume of old Bruin's life 
— as well as his defense against the numerous assaults made upon 
him. Among other things I found the enclosed reference to your- 
self — which may remind you of something to add to the second 
edition of "Nautilus." 

Think of old Bruin's reading in the young Queen of Greece's 
eyes, "Do let us waltz" ; and I suppose you thanked him for his 
consideration of the feelings of those other young men. 

Yours truly, 


The following is a copy of the enclosed reference: 

Mrs. Wiley informing me that the King and Queen were very 
fond of waltzing, I observed to her that I was no waltzer, but 
that I had a number of gallant young men on board about the 
Queen's own age (fifteen) who were very good at it. Having 
a fine band on board, I ordered a portion of them to the quarter- 
deck, and to play one of their most animated waltzes. The 
music electrified the Queen. She looked at me wistfully, and I 
imagined I could read in her eyes, "Do let's waltz." But recollect- 
ing the instructions from Mrs. Wiley, that I must not put any 
leading questions to her Majesty, I beckoned for one of my aids. 
Midshipman Maffitt, son of Rev. John N. Maffitt, who was quite 
an adept at the business, presented him to the Queen, stepped aside, 
and motioned to him to be off. He did so, and in less than thirty 
minutes at least twenty couples, including the King, were whirling 
upon the deck to their hearts' content. The evening closing in 
upon us, the awnings were spread, and the muskets of the marines 
placed around the capstan with sperm candles in the muzzles 
instead of cartridges, forming a splendid chandelier, and thus 
converting the quarter-deck into a beautiful ball-room. The dance 
continued until two o'clock in the morning, when the King pro- 
posed being taken on shore. The boats were accordingly manned, 

John Newland Maffitt 41 

the yards and masts of the ship splendidly illuminated, and a salute 
of twenty-one guns fired when they had left. Before leaving the 
ship, the Queen remarked to Mr. Maffitt that she would give a 
return ball on shore, at the same time extending an invitation to 

She did so, and sent invitations on board for General Cass, 
his family, my captain and myself. From the English frigate the 
captain alone was invited. Mr. Maffitt came to me, informed me 
of his invitation to the Queen's ball, and asked permission to 
attend. I promptly answered him, "No! what will be the feelings 
of the other young men if you should go, and they excluded. 
And, further, no one has been invited from the British frigate but 
the captain, and your attendance may cause complaint by the 
British Ambassador." 

I quote again from the "Nautilus" : 

The frigate remained but a day longer. From the Piraeus she 
sailed to Cape Colonna, where the young midshipmen visited the 
once magnificent temples of Minerva and Jupiter Olympus. The 
interest awakened in visiting this spot is doubtless enhanced when 
it is remembered that here Faulkner met his disastrous shipwreck. 

The frigate then sailed for Smyrna, Scio, Tenedos, Syria, 
Candia, and after an absence of four months, returned once again 
to the friendly harbor of Port Mahon. 

While overhauling and provisioning the ship a melancholy occur- 
rence cast a gloom upon the steerage. John, with a party of young 
gentlemen, left on a visit to the monastery on Mount Toro, a lofty 
eminence in the middle of the island, commanding a far view over 
the Balearics and surrounding sea. Before leaving, he exchanged 
his cloak with his friend Midshipman Talbot for a warm pea- 
jacket, better calculated for equestrian service. 

The night after his departure was cold and rainy. On retiring 
Mr. Talbot hung the cloak at the head of his hammock, ready 
for service on his morning watch. At four a. m. he was called 
to duty, and after dressing, turned for the cloak. It was missing, 
but he soon discovered it, thoroughly saturated with water, lying 
on a camp-stool. The weather being intensely cold, his indigna- 
tion increased proportionately ; and in this frame of mind he 
repaired on deck. 

At seven bells he entered the steerage, and called up the young- 
gentlemen. When they were all aroused, he demanded to know 
who had been guilty of the outrage. 

42 The Life and Services of 

There was no response for a time, until one of the midshipmen 
turned to a mischievous little youngster, and said, 

"Flaker, why do you not speak up at once, and tell Talbot 
that you wore the cloak?" 

Thus spurred on the boy said pertly, 

"I took the cloak; and what do you make of it?" 

' 7 That you are an impertinent puppy !" And he slapped the 
youngster's face. 

An older midshipman, whose name was Bruster, stepped out, 
and said, 

' 'Tis a cowardly act, sir, to strike one so much your inferior 
in strength. Turn your wrath on me, sir, if you dare!" 

"I dare ! and therefore please consider that the chastisement 
inflicted upon the impudent brat is applied to yourself !" 

Words and blows followed ; but the stern voice of the first 
lieutenant instantly quieted the altercation. From the well-known 
character of the parties and grave looks of the "oldsters" all felt 
assured the affair had not terminated. 

During the day John returned, and after an interview with 
Talbot, it was evident from the sadness of his countenance that 
something very serious was contemplated. This impression was 
confirmed from frequent ceremonious interviews between certain 

An effort was made to bring about a reconciliation, but it 
proved abortive. The challenge to mortal combat passed, and was 
accepted by Talbot. Both young men were highly regarded in 
the steerage, and the difficulty was therefore deeply deplored, and 
by none more than the youngster whose flippancy and thought- 
lessness had involved his friend. 

On the following day many of the midshipmen visited the shore, 
among them Talbot and Bruster with their seconds. The affair, 
like all such on board a man-of-war, was managed with secrecy 
and adroitness. At eleven a. m., in a retired spot behind the grave- 
yard, the parties met. 

John Maffitt acted for his friend Talbot, and even at the eleventh 
hour made another and a final effort to bring about an adjustment ; 
but Bruster was inflexible. A blow had been struck and no apology 
could obliterate such an insult. 

Dueling in America, and more particularly in the Navy, was 
then a fixed institution. The General Government had enacted 
stringent laws against it, as had also the legislature of every State 
in the Union. Philanthropists denounced the code as a relic of 

John Newland Maffitt 43 

barbarism, and the pulpit pronounced it to be a defiance of God's 
law, which declares that vengeance belongs to Omnipotence alone. 
Nevertheless, while society could not sustain the institution on the 
grounds of law or morals, it did not frown it down, nor hesitate 
to appeal to it on points of honor. With public opinion, to decline 
a challenge to fight a duel was to fix upon one's self the stigma 
of cowardice. If such was the fiat in civil life, how much more 
so was it in the military and naval professions. 

Young officers of the Navy seemed to fancy that their status in 
the service was not established until they had burnt powder under 
the rulings of the celebrated "Tipperary Articles" — a copy of 
which could be found in the preface of every midshipman's 
journal. The consequences to the naval service of the encourage- 
ment of this questionable institution were the frequent loss of 
valuable lives and the infliction of disabling wounds. 

The principals who now stood upon the field of strife were both 
Virginians, young, high-strung, intelligent, and exceedingly 
proud. When summoned, they advanced with firm step and lifted 
their caps with chivalric courtesy. In a moment the souls of both 
might be called before their Maker, to give an account of the 
deeds done in the body. Solemn as was the relation they held 
toward each other, yet calm and determined were their counte- 
nances, over which not a shadow passed nor muscle quivered. 

The seconds placed the weapons in their hands, and announced 
the rules by which the duel was to be governed. 

"Gentlemen, you will hold your pistols muzzle down, and per- 
pendicularly to the ground. At the question, are you ready? 
answer yea or nay. If both respond in the affirmative, the words 
will follow, 'Fire ! — one — two — three — cease !' " 

John retired a short distance at right angles, and there was a 
sacl, ominous silence of about forty seconds, which seemed an age 
of suspense. Having won the word, with a clear intonation he 

"Gentlemen, are you ready?" 

"Ready !" 

"Fire ! — one — two — three — " 

At the word "two" both pistols were discharged simultaneously. 
The combatants stood firm, apparently untouched. Their seconds 
approached, when Bruster slowly leaned forward, tottered, and 
then sank heavily upon his face, before his friends could arrest the 
fall. The surgeon hastened to his assistance, opened his vest, 
tore aside the blood-stained shirt, and there, on the right breast, 

44 The Life and Services of 

the life-stream of this gallant hotspur gushed forth upon the damp 
soil. The surgeon shook his head as the probe followed the 
passage of the ball. Then he compressed the wound, bandaged it, 
and directed that he should be taken at once to the hospital. 

Talbot stood like one stricken with palsy. Heavy drops of 
perspiration rolled down his cheeks. The eyes that a moment 
before had been eagle-like in intensity, mellowed like the dove's, 
and swam in tears of agony. 

"My God!" he cried, "I have killed my old friend! Miserable 
man that I am ! miserable, miserable man ! John, is there no 
hope? Ask the doctor? Bruster must not die! — for, if that shot 
proves fatal, my existence henceforth will be one of wretchedness !" 

He was led from the ground the picture of despair. 

The wound was fatal. Poor Bruster lingered unconscious 
throughout the day and night, his mind wandering to the beautiful 
valley of Virginia, whose green fields he would see no more. 
Mother and sister, in his feverish fancy, were by his side. It was 
painful to hear his expressions of devoted love; but still more so 
when he called upon one dear name, and grasped, in his delirium, 
a braid of raven hair, now saturated with his gore. Gradually 
these paroxysms ceased ; he breathed more feebly ; and we could 
hear as his life passed away, the words, "Mother — kiss me, 
Emily!" The light of clay entered the room as the vital spark 
passed into the solemn darkness of death. 

They buried poor Bruster with military honors in the naval 
cemetery. A monument was placed over his grave by his ship- 
mates. As the sun threw its rays upon the home of the dead, they 
disclosed many a broken marble shaft, that told a like tale of 
death resulting from the "code of honor." 

The commodore manifested much excitement when the melan- 
choly information was reported. He at once ordered the arrest 
of Talbot, and expressed his determination to try him by court- 
martial. But it is presumed that reminiscences of his own 
youthful indulgences led him to abandon his first intention. The 
affair ended in Talbot's being sent home. 

In a brief time he retired from the Navy, a gloomy, unhappy 
man ; nor was he heard of in after years, until the war of secession 
brought him out of obscurity, at the head of a splendid Virginia 
regiment. He fought gallantly under General Lee, and found a 
soldier's grave at Sharpsburg. 

John Newland Maffitt 45 

Chapter XIII of "Nautilus" gives an account of John's 
meeting, while the frigate was at Malaga, with two lovely- 
girls who were sisters, and daughters of Governor General 
Obergrand. This friendship continued always. Unfortu- 
nately, their letters to him, which he valued, were destroyed 
with his trunk of even more valuable papers, in the Charleston 
fire of the sixties. The next chapter tells of a masque ball 
given at Lisbon, on the occasion of the marriage of the Prince 
of Saxe-Coburg with Donna Maria of Portugal, in which the 
midshipmen and officers of the American squadron took part, 
John as an Indian squaw. 

The late Mrs. Hybart, nee Eliza Maffitt, John's sister- 
cousin, has often lamented to me the loss of letters written to 
her by her cousin during this Mediterranean cruise, letters 
which she said were of great interest, but which were wantonly 
destroyed by the Federal soldiers of Sherman's army, in their 
march through Fayetteville, North Carolina. The soldiers 
would amuse themselves awhile, she said, reading- the letters, 
shouting over his graphic descriptions of events, and then 
maliciously destroy them. 

Midshipman Maffitt was ordered to the United States 
schooner Shark for passage to the United States, during which 
passage he performed duty — was entrusted with charge of 
the deck on several occasions, although he had not a regular 
watch as officer of the deck. A circumstance is related by 
Lieut. Maxwell Woodhull, U. S. Navy,* which took place at 
this time and was told as an illustration of Midshipman 
Maffitt's energy, courage, and promptness in emergency. A 
difficulty occurred among - the crew, in consequence of their 
drinking liquor while breaking out the spirit-room. "It was," 
Lieutenant Maxwell said, "a very serious difficulty, so much 
so, that the vessel was in possession of the crew at one moment, 
and Mr. Maffitt, being on deck at the time, went forward 
promptly and was mainly instrumental in quelling it. He 

*See case of Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. N. 

46 The Life and Services of 

displayed great activity and energy in quelling the crew by 
going among them and assisting to secure the ringleaders." 

Passing over the many other incidents and adventures 
narrated of this eventful cruise, I will refer only to Chapter 
XXXI, which gives a true account of the examination to 
which Midshipman Maffitt and others of his shipmates were 
subjected on their return to the United States from this cruise, 
in order to attain their degree of passed midshipmen. 

Twenty-nine days of light winds and generous breezes, storms 
and calms, found the schooner Shark passing between the frowning 
forts of Monroe and the Rip-Raps. A few hours and the little 
craft lay snugly moored at the sheers-wharf of Gosport Navy 
Yard. Officers and men were permitted to go on shore, a watch- 
man of the yard becoming the custodian of the vessel until the 
following day. 

High in spirits, the reefers disentangled themselves from their 
crowded lair. The sight of oysters, in every style of cookery, 
brought to memory scenes of old delights, beautiful maidens 
versed in naval lore, picnics to the Dismal Swamp, and those 
genial flirtations so often ending in partnerships for life. 

The schooner was dismantled. Orders came to pay off the 
crew and place the officers on leave ; with the exception of the 
midshipmen, who, entitled to an examination, received instruction 
to report to Baltimore at the expiration of three weeks. 

All midshipmen appearing before the dreaded tribunal were 
required by law to present not only journals, but also letters of 
approbation from the different captains under whom they had 

John, bidding farewell to the delights of Norfolk, repaired to 
the Monumental City, and prudently secured a quiet boarding 
house, where, undisturbed, he could devote himself to those 
preparations which the ordeal of examination demanded. His 
zeal was unabated until the meeting of the board and the gathering 
of the class, amounting to some seventy anxious and expectant 
aspirants for professional advancement. 

On his entrance into the Navy in 1832 he was associated 
with midshipmen who were eighteen years of age, and had 
received the incalculable advantages of a collegiate education. 

John Newland Maffitt 47 

while he, only thirteen years old, had been deprived of this 
equipment for a very exacting and varied profession. 

Proceeding to the Exchange Hotel, where the examinations 
were to take place, before reporting he tarried in the ante-room 
to glean, if possible, some information as to the character of the 
officers who were to fix his status in the Navy. 

A classmate by the name of Taylor, who unfortunately had 
failed in his first trial, and was now about to embrace his last 
chance, offered to enlighten him. 

"Well, Maffitt, as you are a stranger to the 'bilgers' I can post 
you from personal knowledge. Our president is 'Quicksilver 
Jimmy,' known to fame in our last struggle with John Bull. The 
natural gallantry and astuteness of his character is marred by 
impulsiveness and an unfortunate tendency to sudden prejudice. 
If his first impressions are favorable, no one is kinder or more 
considerate; but if, on the contrary, a prejudice is conceived, his 
ferret-eyes and crockery-smashing voice will promptly enlighten 
your anxious mind that 'Jordan is a hard road to travel.' 

"The second investigator of professional fitness is 'Garlic Billy.' 
Once he enjoyed reputation as an officer and seaman. Excessive 
piety, subsiding into fanaticism, has despoiled him of every genial 
attribute. He may be considered as but an echo to the capricious 
'Tartar Jimmy.' 

"Our third Triton is 'would-be literary C ,' who is deaf as a 

ring-bolt, but kind-hearted — and — incompetent. Profess to court 
the Muses, and demean yourself as if convinced he hears you; 
then, the helm, though called a 'monkey-tail,' will elicit an approv- 
ing smile. Through the blessings of his fractured tympanum I 
trust to weather the breakers and obtain a safe offing. ' 

"Number four looms up before my alarmed fancy like an ancient 
Venetian headsman, bloody, decapitating axe in hand, vulture 
eyes gleaming with anthropophagi ferociousness, as he slaughters 
reefers without satiety. 

"The heart of Jack G , our royal Bengal tiger, was con- 
structed out of lignum-vitje. If anything harder existed, Nature 
would have used it. Strange to say his voice is devoid of harsh- 
ness ; it is moderate, low, and alarmingly clear, as it pierces 
through you. Nevertheless, every inch of him is the accomplished 

"The junior is 'Handsome Charlie,' the Beau Brummel of the 
Navy. A more chivalric or high-toned gentleman never broke 

48 The Life and Services of 

a biscuit. Professionally — well, he can handle a ship ; but, John, 
I rather fancy marlinspike is not his specialty. 

"The professors are two in number : Mr. W and good old 

Don R . Of the former I have nothing to say that is flatter- 
ing, only, that he certainly is no offshoot of the mathematician of 

Syracuse. Don R is the residuum of a noble original. Nigt:t 

suppers, garnished with liberal libations of whiskey, have some- 
what despoiled the fine old fellow of that professional reputation 
so well deserved in days now vanished. His honesty and 
impartiality no incidental weakness can obliterate. Fresh and 
serene, he will now control his branch of the examination. 

"There, I've given you a faithful sketch of the immortal seven 
who are to decide upon the relative merits of seventy anxious 
aspirants for naval glory and renown. I suggest that you report 
without delay. Jimmy is an exacting individual." 

Accordingly, John appeared before the officials, presented his 
orders, registered his name, and departed without cause of 

Sedulously continuing his studies, the ante-room was only 
occasionally visited, to observe the condition of his name on the 
"roaster." While there, he witnessed with considerable personal 
interest the feverish anxiety with which all entered the examina- 
tion-room, and not infrequently, with much pain, the look of 
anguish that marked the return of the unfortunates. No 
announcement of the result was needed ; it was invariably 
impressed with joy or sorrow on the different countenances. 
They received congratulations or sympathy from their com- 
panions, who were free from jealousy or petty feelings. 

In the regular course of rotation, John's turn arrived. Armed 
with his journals and certificates, and feeling the importance of 
the trial, the reefer subdued his emotion, and entered with quiet 
self-possession. The veteran commodores perused his letters, and 
appeared to be considerably amused over that of Captain Walford. 

The "Bengal Tiger" muttered savagely that he had never known 
an officer who indulged in Latin to be worth his salt as a seaman. 

"Well, sir," said "Jimmy," with some asperity of manner, "if 
perchance that officer ever performs duty on your quarter-deck, 
you will find a seaman of ability, whose professional knowledge 
is second to none in the service." 

"It would be an anomaly," responded the Tiger. 

Handsome Charley warmly remarked, "Lieutenant, or Captain 
Walford, with a few harmless eccentricities, is a naval expert of 
the highest order of merit." 

John Nevvland Maffitt 49 

Here the dispute ended. The president turned John over to the 
tender mercies of the "Bengal Tiger," and his trial commenced. 
Answering the first general questions, he proceeded to launch his 
ship, masted, rigged, bent sails, stowed the hold, got in and 
mounted guns, received powder, shot and shell, stationed officers 
and crew, got under way and proceeded to sea. 

"Hem !" ejaculated the 'Tiger,' "very good, if it is parrot-like." 

John mastered his indignation, and bowed politely, determined 
that the harsh examiner should not confuse him. Departing from 
the general published systems, the "Bengal Tiger" proposed 
original and difficult questions, which the young gentleman 
answered promptly. All the accidents that could be conceived by a 
seaman's brain were hurled at the young midshipman, who exhibi- 
ted so much readiness in his answers that he won the attention of 
the entire board. Knotting, splicing, bending cables, and tending 
ship at single anchor (the commodore's specialty), the reefer 
proved himself perfectly familiar with. 

The last question propounded related to the hoisting of all a 
frigate's cutters when under way, and pressing through the waters 
under some critical necessity. John quickly comprehended the 
bearing of the question, remembering that, during the late war with 
England, the "Tiger," as sailing-master of a famous frig-ate, by his 
thorough seamanship, when the wind rose, saved all her boats that 
had been towing, to escape from the chasing squadron of the 
enemy. He answered accordingly. The vulture eyes softened ; 
vanity triumphed. A smile of pleasure irradiated the stern counte- 
nance, and the "Tiger" actually complimented a midshipman. 

This is the circumstance referred to : 

Captain Hull, the "Tiger," in the frigate Constitution, 
chased for three days and nights by an English squadron, 
commanded by Commodore Brooke, and consisting of the 
Africa, Shannon, Guerriere, Belvedera, and Eolns, hoisted all 
of the frigate's boats, when the wind arose, which had been 
towing, to escape from the chasing squadron of the enemy. 

This section of the ordeal concluded, "Handsome Charley" 
examined the reefer's knowledge of practical gunnery, but with so 
much courtesy that John felt perfectly at his ease. 

Navigation and its adjuncts wound up the score. The "Don" 
put John through the phases of Bowditch. They navigated the 

50 The Life and Services of 

trackless ocean, and passed to the glittering stars and fickle moon. 
Charts were projected, instruments explained, and the professor 
expressed his perfect satisfaction. 

While the certificate was under preparation, "Tartar Jimmy," 
whose prejudices were favorable, asked a few questions on inter- 
national law. The document was duly signed, congratulations 
were offered, and John left the "lemon-squeezers" to receive the 
hearty greetings of his friends. 

The board completed their labors, rejecting twenty-eight unfor- 
tunates. Some, it was thought, passed by especial favor. Out of 
the number who failed, but one case excited a murmur of disappro- 
bation — that of Henry Logan, who came from the woods of Michi- 
gan, and in personal appearance resembled a grizzly. His face was 
not inaptly compared to a nutmeg grater. With awkward figure 
and an ungainly manner, the first impression he gave was by no 
means favorable. All these deficiencies faded from sight as he 
conversed, for his mind was a magazine of knowledge and engine 
of great power. His admiring friends had exhibited much solici- 
tude for his success, and only feared his rough appearance might 
mi 1 itate against him. 

John, influenced by sincere regard, volunteered to aid him in all 
things. The offer was accepted, and when the process of improve- 
ment bep-an, it excited no small amount of amusement, and partic- 
ularly with Logan himself. 

"I have no objection to your putting me through a course of 
sprouts," said he, "but, John, my friend, rest assured of one thing 
— all your ability, backed by your friendship for me, will never 
convert Henry Logan into the most remote approach to a Narcissus 

Maffitt drilled him in his profession, in attitudes and graceful 
movements, governed his diet, carefully interdicting anything that 
would stimulate, applied cosmetics to his ruffled face, and in two 
weeks so completely revolutionized his countenance and improved 
his movements that his friends hardly knew him. 

The day of trial came. Zealous friends assisted him to dress 
with taste ; and when fully rigged, for the first time in sixteen days 
a looking-glass was allowed him. Long and earnestly he gazed 
upon the image reflected therein. An expression of astonishment 
was pictured in his countenance. At last, shaking a fist at the 
mirrored face, he exclaimed, 

"Is that me, or is it some trick of fancy appearing to torment me 
into the absurd belief that Henry Logan is, after all, a good-look- 

John Newland Maffitt 51 

ing" fellow? Now, if this will only last long- enough, I will marry 
a fortune, and live in Paris!" 

At the appointed hour Logan appeared before the board. No 
aspirant of the entire class was better posted, or more perfectly 
competent to triumph under the most searching investigation of a 
just examination. 

Unfortunately, "Garlic Billy" had been his commander when the 
frigate lay at the harbor of Lisbon. While at the mole, in charge 
of one of the ship's cutters, a drunken English chaplain insulted 
him so rudely that he pitched him into the Tagus. "Garlic Billy" 
brought Logan to trial. The evidence of English officers acquitted 
him ; but his fanatical captain could not forgive or forget this rough 
handling of a parson. 

The prejudice worked to Logan's disadvantage with the board, 
in spite of the manly effort on the part of "Handsome Charlie" to 
secure justice and sustain merit. So warmly did he express him- 
self, that the president, "Quicksilver Jimmy," deemed it his duty to 
call him to order. 

Poor Logan was thus cast out into the cold. Friendly sympathy 
warmed his genial soul, and he breasted the storm with manly for- 
titude, sustained as he was by the general acknowledgment of his 
unrequited merit. In the following year, untrammeled by fanatical 
prejudice, he passed with distinction; and if life had been pro- 
longed to him, few officers would have enjoyed a higher reputation. 
A few years later he fell a victim to the pestilential miasma which 
swept away many noble spirits in the long and desperate Seminole 


Promotion and visit home — Ordered to the Vandalia — Letters home — 
Appointed acting lieutenant — Ordered to U. S. frigate Macedonian — 
Letter relating events of cruise in Gulf of Mexico. 

On June 28, 1838, Mr. Maffitt was promoted to passed 
midshipman, and was then enabled to meet his dearly loved 
cousin, Eliza Maffitt, in Portsmouth; she being then on her 
way to school in Bordentown, New Jersey. He also took this 
occasion to visit his father's family, and in one of his letters 
to his cousin refers to his visit as having been a delightful one. 

On October 16, he was ordered to the Government packet 
Woodbury, its commander being John S. Nicholas, U. S. 
Navy, who said the estimate of his character which he formed 
was that he was an exceedingly capable, active and intelligent 
young officer. 

November 20, 1838, he was ordered to the United States 
sloop-of-war Vandalia. The following letters are among those 
given me by his cousin, Mrs. Hybart : 

U. S. Sloop-of-War "Vandalia," 

Pensacola, January 3, 1839. 
My dear Coz : 

I must complain of your neglecting the promise made while in 
Portsmouth last June. Why did you not write ? Was it too much 
trouble, or have you forgotten so soon your cousin who loves you 
well? 'Twas by the merest accident that I learned from Dr. 
Goodwin of your being at Bordentown. 

My visit home was delightful. Ah, Coz, I wish you could see 
Eliza and the twins, Henrietta and Caroline, three of the prettiest 
and most charming girls Heaven ever created, and they are 
extremely anxious to see you — desired me to send oceans of love 
and many hopes of yet meeting with their North Carolina cousin. 

Pensacola is dull and uninteresting, very few ladies who are 
desirable associates. * * * 'Tis not improbable but that you 

John Newland Maffitt 53 

may see me this next winter, or before. When I write again I will 
give you an account of our cruise on this ship, as 'tis rumored 
that we go to sea in a week or two — no doubt to the seat of war 
[Mexico], where we will see active times and no doubt much that 
will interest you. 

Your affectionate cousin, 

John N. Maffitt, U. S. N. 

P. S.— Direct to Passed Midshipman J. N. Maffitt, U. S. Ship 
Vandalia, Florida. 

Eliza and the twins, Matilda Caroline and Henrietta, were 
his sisters, to whom he was devoted and they to him as long as 
they lived. He divided his monthly pay with them, reserving 
only ten dollars for his own expenses. This I learned years 
afterward from Mrs. Henrietta Lamar, one of the twins. 

The next letter is : 

U. S. Ship "Vandalia," 

Pensacola, May 3, 1839. 
My dear Coz : 

Your most welcome and agreeable letter of January has this 
moment been placed in my hand, and I immediately answer. We 
arrived but yesterday from a long and interesting cruise in the 
Gulf of Mexico, where nothing but storms and blasts greeted 
us ; indeed, we have had a very rough time. At Vera Cruz we 
saw the French fleet that stormed and took the renowned Castle 
of St. Juan de Ulua. I visited the city and found it completely 
deserted, pierced with shot and bombshells from the guns of the 
French. I wandered about like a second Don Quixote, in search 
of adventures, but 'twas more like a pilgrimage to some ancient 
and depopulated city; not a bright eye peered from one of the 
beautiful balconies around the Alameda to cheer me in my 

At Matamoras I was near losing my life in crossing a dangerous 
bar in a storm ; for two days I lived, or rather existed, with 
nothing but water to sustain life, on a miserable island where a 
few fishermen's hovels sheltered us from the storm. It appeared 
as if the very heavens were laboring with all the pent-up hurri- 
canes that ever existed; and they had the impudence to call the 
place Bagdad, from one of the most luxurious and Oriental 
cities of the past. * * * 

54 The Life and Services of 

'Tis a source of extreme gratification to know that you are 
well and happy ; may no cloud of adversity ever throw a momen- 
tary gleam o'er your path through this life, — one's school-days 
are the brightest, no thought of care, — the world bright and 
unvarying. I anticipate returning by September next, and should 
you still be in Baltimore will go to see you. Give my kind 
remembrances to all our people in dear North Carolina. When 
you select me a wife from North Carolina, Coz, we will have 
grand times. I will not be over-particular — should like an 
amiable disposition and fine mind. Riches would be no objection, 
for indeed 'tis the most essential quality now-a-days in this cold 
and heartless world. 

But I have forgotten to inform you that Lieut. J. N. Maffitt 
is writing- to you ! Ah, hem ! Yes, 'tis true. Lieut. H. J. Paul, 
from Hillsboro, North Carolina, fell overboard in a gale of wind 
and was drowned. I now have his position and will no doubt 
retain it for two months, so, Coz, you can address me as such. 
But I have said enough of self and think you must be wearied 
of it. We will remain here about forty days, as two of the 
officers are to be tried by court-martial. Where we will sail to 
next is a matter of uncertainty. I would be minute in the detail 
of our last cruise, but 'twould not afford you any pleasure, as 
we have had rather disagreeable times, on account of our captain, 
who is most generally hated. 

Your affectionate cousin, 

John N. M., U. S. Navy. 

The midshipmen are next door to me and making such a 
racket that 'tis impossible to write, or even think, so all imper- 
fections must be overlooked. 

(March n, 1839, Passed Midshipman Maffitt was appointed 
acting lieutenant. ) 

His next letter is dated : 

U. S. Frigate "Macedonian," 

Vera Cruz, June 1, 1840. 
My dearest Cousin : 

Your most welcome letter was received just before leaving 
Pensacola, on our present cruise, and would have been answered 
immediately, but for the excess of duty incidental on going to 
sea. We sailed on the 10th of last month, went to Campechie, 

John Newland Maffitt 55 

and communicated with the city, which was surrounded by the 
troops of the Federal party, and will surrender very soon, as they 
are now nearly out of provisions. The besieging party could carry 
it by storm, but as they own property in the city which they do 
not wish to destroy, famine is brought forward as the most 
formidable engine. 

On the 2 ist we sailed for this place, and arrived after a 
stormy and disagreeable time, but do not visit the city for fear 
of yellow fever. The fortifications are now rebuilt, and no 
evidence remains of the French bombardment; but the whole 
country is in a wretched state, nothing but anarchy and confusion. 
We sail to-morrow or next day for Tampico, from thence to 
Pensacola, to remain during the hurricane months. Our present 
cruise has not been rife with any interest, for the yellow fever 
existing among all the ports will not allow our communicating, 
and the unfriendly winds and waves serve to dispel ennui. 
David Ocheltree is well and happy as a boy always is who 
possesses excellent health, a light heart, and no cares. He will 
make a fine officer — quite at home, and gives his orders with all 
the dignity of a young hero. Nothing delights him so much as an 
opportunity to buckle himself to his sword, though it gives him 
double duty. * * * 

Your affectionate cousin, 

John N. M., U. S. N. 


Marriage — Ordered to the Navy Yard, Pensacola — Birth and baptism of 
"Florie" on board Macedonian — Detached and ordered to the U. S. 
Coast Survey under Prof. F. R. Hassler — Death of Professor Hassler — 
Prof. A. D. Bache, LL. D., takes charge — Report of Professor Bache — 
His tribute to Professor Hassler — His report of work of Survey for 
year 1844 — Report of work for 1845, with mention of work of Lieut. 
John N. Maffitt on the Survey. 

In June, 1840, Lieutenant Maffitt left Vera Cruz for 
Tampico, thence to Pensacola, to remain during the hurricane 
months, usually August and September. October 22, 1840, 
he was detached from the frigate Macedonian and granted 
three months' leave. 

While in Pensacola he met a Miss Mary Florence Murrell, 
who was there visiting a relative. She was from Alabama, 
and was a daughter of a Virginia gentleman some years 
deceased, a brother of Col. Joseph Murrell of Mobile, Alabama. 
This gentleman had settled in Alabama, married, died, and 
left three children, two daughters and one son, John Murrell. 
This acquaintance between Lieutenant Maffitt and Miss 
Murrell ended in marriage, which took place in Mobile, 
November 17, 1840, during his three months' leave. 

February 6, 1841, Lieutenant Maffitt was ordered to the 
Navy Yard, Pensacola, and on October 26, 1841, he was 
ordered to the Macedonian as acting master. The following 
February, 1842, his first child, Mary Florence, or "Florie," as 
her fond father called her, was born. He had left his wife in 
Mobile and was at sea at the time, but the ship soon after 
touching at Pensacola, the mail brought letters announcing the 
birth. Soon afterward his wife and child joined him in 
Pensacola, and "Florie" was baptized on board the frigate 
Macedonian by the chaplain. 

Lieutenant John Newland Maffitt 


John Newland Maffitt 57 

In 1839, when Acting Lieutenant Maffitt was first ordered 
to her, the frigate Macedonian belonged to the West India 
squadron under Commodore Shubrick. In the latter part of 
1840 Commodore J. D. Wilkinson took charge of the squadron 
and the Macedonian was his flag-ship. Lieutenant Maffitt was 
then sailing master of this ship, and also acting lieutenant 
during 1840, 1841 and 1842. Commodore Wilkinson spoke 
of Lieutenant Maffitt as a first-rate officer and gentleman. 
Commander Arthur Sinclair, U. S. Navy, also bore witness to 
Lieutenant Maffitt as being a remarkably intelligent and 
efficient officer, both as a navigator and deck officer, and other 
officers stated that no officer on board the ship stood higher. 

April 20, 1842, Lieutenant Maffitt was detached and ordered 
to the Coast Survey. Prof. F. R. Hassler was then superin- 
tendent of the United States Coast Survey, which position he 
retained until his death. In December, 1843, P r °f- A - D. 
Bache, LL. D., took charge. 

Of Professor Hassler, the scientist, my husband told me the 
following amusing experience: Professor Hassler, himself, 
and others of the Coast Survey party were very busy one day 
in their office preparing charts, when the announcement was 
made that a party of dignitaries from some foreign court had 
called to pay their respects. The Professor was without his 
coat and merely looking up said, "Invite them in." 

"But, Professor," said Lieutenant Maffitt, "you have not 
on your coat." 

"Ach, mein Gott!" was the reply. "Dey come to see me, 
here I am ; dey come to see mine vordrobe, dere it is," pointing 
to the closet where his coat hung suspended; nor could they 
prevail upon him to assume it. 

November 14, 1842, Lieutenant Maffitt was detached from 
the Coast Survey, and placed on waiting orders, and on the 
2 1 st he was ordered to the rendezvous at Baltimore. January 
11, 1843, he was detached and ordered to the receiving vessel 

58 The Life and Services of 

at Baltimore as acting master. May 9, 1843, ne was again 
detached and ordered to the Coast Survey under command of 
Lieut. George S. Blake, U. S. N. ■ 

On the death of Professor Hassler, Prof. Alexander D. 
Bache was made Superintendent of the Coast Survey, and 
entered on his duties in December, 1843. From his report to 
the Secretary of the Treasury, showing the progress of the 
work during the year ending November, 1844, I copy the 
following tribute to Professor Hassler : 

Survey of the Coast, 
Station near Cumberland Hill, R. I. 

Sir : In compliance with the regulation for the Survey of the 
Coast, I have the honor to submit to you a report of "the 
progress and state of the work to be laid before the President 
and Congress." 

The Coast Survey owes its present form, and perhaps its 
existence, to the zeal and scientific ability of the late Super- 
intendent F. R. Hassler, who devoted the energies of a life to it, 
and who, but for its interruption at a period when he was in the 
prime of manhood, and its suspension for nearly fifteen years, 
might have seen its completion. The difficult task of creating 
resources of practical science for carrying on such work on a 
suitable scale, required no common zeal and perseverance for its 
accomplishment, especially at a time (1807) when our country 
was far from having attained her present position in scientific 
requirement, and when public opinion was hardly sufficiently 
enlightened to see the full advantages of thoroughness in execut- 
ing the work. In his successful struggle against great difficulties, 
his adopted country will no doubt honor his memory as the pioneer 
of a useful national undertaking. In succeeding to the duties of 
one who had made the work so peculiarly his own, I have felt that 
entire devotion and unwearied industry alone could enable me to 
maintain the position. 

The operations of the survey have, during the present year, 
been carried on in nine States of the Union, and will be extended 
soon to three others, making twelve, and probably into a thirteenth, 
in the spring. Enumerating these in geographical order, they 
are Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New 
Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, 
Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The greatest force has 
been employed on or near the Chesapeake and Delaware bays. 

John Newland Maffitt 59 

In this letter of Superintendent Bache giving his report of 
the progress of the work of the Coast Survey during the year 
ending November, 1844, he writes: 

The operations of the Survey may be classed under the follow- 
ing heads : 

1. The primary triangulations, and astronomical and other 
observations connected with them. These are intended chiefly 
to fix with minute accuracy the positions of important points 
with reference to each other and to the earth's surface. They 
rest upon carefully measured bases, and check the secondary 

2. The secondary triangulations, which determine the relative 
positions of all important points upon and near the coast. These 
form a ground-work for : 

3. The determination of the minute topography of the coast 
by plane table or other equivalent surveys. The points thus care- 
fully determined upon the shores and the shore lines are used in 
the fourth class of operations. 

4. The hydrography, which includes the determination of the 
depth of water off the coast, and in the bays, harbors, and other 
navigable waters connected with the ocean, the existence of 
shoals, &c, and the direction and velocity of currents. 

The results of these operations, when requiring calculation, 
are reduced by the parties making the observations and checked 
by others. They go to form the maps and charts, which are the 
ultimate objects of the work; to give a minute knowledge of our 
coast, in a high degree important to our commercial and national 
marine, and in connection with defense. 

5. The results obtained in the field and by calculation are 
projected in the office, according to a uniform system, by the 
draughtsmen engaged here, who also trace carefully upon copper 
the projections for the maps. Within these projections the 
engravers enter the work from the reduced drawings. The maps 
are printed at the office for sale and distribution. 

In his report for the year ending November 29, 1845, 
Professor Bache, on page 17, paragraph 8, writes: 

"A series of tidal observations for the establishment of the port 
of New London, Connecticut, with observations of the set and 
velocity of tides in Fisher's Island Sound, have been made by 

60 The Life and Services of 

Lieut. John N. Maffitt, United States Navy, under the immediate 
direction of Lieut. Comdg. George S. Blake. The stations at 
which observations were made are marked in sketch C, No. I. 
The results will be immediately reduced and the computations 
required be made by an officer of this party at the office in 
Washington. The observations of currents are projected on 
diagrams, which facilitate the scrutiny of the results, and render 
practical deductions from them comparatively easy. In a difficult 
navigation like that of Fisher's Island Sound, a chart of which 
is now publishing, sailing directions must be very imperfect, 
unless they take into consideration the set and drift of the tide." 

In his report of the progress of the work during the year 
ending November, 1846, Professor Bache says: 

Coast Survey Station, 
Cape Ann, Mass., November 25, 1846. 

* * * The hydrography of this section has been executed 
by the party under the command of Lieut. Comdg. Charles H. 
Davis,* United States Navy, in charge of the surveying schooner 
Gallatin. The work (see sketch A) has included the completion 
of the soundings of the Vineyard Sound proper, the survey of 
Edgartown and Nantucket harbors, a reconnaissance south of 
Nantucket, and a survey of the South Shoal, with the determina- 
tion of a new shoal six miles southward of the well-known 
Nantucket South Shoal. The charts of Edgartown and Nantucket 
harbors will be at once reduced, preparatory to engraving. 

The whole season has been unfavorable to hydrographic opera- 
tions. During the early part of it, delay was experienced from 
the difficulty of procuring seamen ; and when the operations were 
commenced, on the 14th of June, they proceeded but slowly from 
the constant occurrence of storms and fogs. By a judicious 
arrangement of the work, however, a good deal has been accom- 
plished. The harbors were reserved for work in boisterous 
weather, the roadstead and the sound for more favorable times. 
The method which I had adopted for surveying the South Shoal 
and the ground near it was by the determination, from two shore 
stations, of the positions of two vessels at anchor; and from these 
again, the position of another vessel or of boats. Verifications 
by the introduction of a third shore station, and the measurements 

*Lieut. J. N. Maffitt was of this party. 

John Newland Maffitt 61 

of angles from the station vessels and from the sounding vessels 
or boats were included in the plan. All the preparations for this 
work were completed, when the tripods intended for the shore 
stations were destroyed by the disastrous fire which consumed 
a considerable part of the town of Nantucket on the 13th and 
14th of July. These disasters repaired, the month of August 
was spent in surveying the shoals south of Nantucket, in the 
Gallatin, and with the aid of two or three vessels hired for the 
occasion. I give the description of the discovery made by this 
party in the words of Lieut. Commanding Davis : 

"The most important result of this undertaking is the determi- 
nation of a shoal, hitherto unknown, six miles to the southward 
of the known South Shoal, having only eight feet of water on 
it in some places, and lying, for a distance of nearly two miles, 
in an almost east and west direction. The position of this and 
the old South Shoal have been satisfactorily defined. Some 
soundings have been made between them, and the deep water has 
been followed out to the southward of the newly discovered shoal. 
Specimens of bottom, varying frequently, and affording valuable 
indications to the navigator, have been preserved. 

"Another important result is the determination of the set and 
velocity of the currents in this neighborhood. Six stations have 
been occupied for these observations. At three of the stations, 
4, 3, and 2 ebbs, and as many floods, were observed ; at the other 
three, only one complete series was made; the latter harmonize, 
however, perfectly with the former. At the three first stations 
the observations were made by Lieutenant Maffitt ; at the last by 
Passed Midshipman Foster. All these observations have been 
plotted upon both the circular and rectangular diagrams, by 
Lieutenant Maffitt ; and you will be gratified by the agreement 
of the observations, as well as by the manner in which they are 

"It is well understood by the pilots that a knowledge of, and 
strict attention to, the currents in this place, conduces more to 
safety than any familiarity with depth alone. The position of the 
shoals being accurately given, it concerns the security of the 
vessel but little whether she is sailing in 10 or 20 fathoms of 
water; but it is indispensable to her security that her commander 
should know the course she is actually making good in passing 
near one of these hidden dangers. The soundings vary much and 
irregularly, about the Nantucket shoals. They are, moreover, 
deceptive, the deep water often leading up to the very verge of 
the shoals, and misguiding the navigator in a fog, and in the 

62 The Life and Services of 

night ; but if he knows that he may steer an east or west course, 
safelv by the shoals, he has merely to be careful that his course 
is really made. 

"There is no doubt that this point is frequently neglected. 
During my stay among the shoals, eight foreign trading vessels 
(square rigged) passed in sight. All of them, without exception, 
were carried out of their course by the disregarded influence of 
the current — some of them as much as two or three points. In 
several cases the course was changed upon seeing the Gallatin. 
She beins: herself a fixed object (at anchor), they were enabled to 
estimate by her the set of the tide ; and but for that, it would 
have been unnoticed. I may add, too, that they all approached 
nearer to the newly discovered shoal than was prudent — six of 
them so near as to cause us serious apprehensions for their 
safety. Of this, of course, they were ignorant. They were then 
from 6 l / 2 to 7^4 miles from the known South Shoal, and had 
reason to think that there was no less than six fathoms of water 
for manv miles to the northward of them ; but as the new shoal 
has bold water to the southward, a near approach does not ^f 
itself involve risk, if the currents are understood, and allowance 
is made for them. 

"The manner in which one or more of the British packet 
steamers have latelv been involved in the unknown dangers of 
this vicinity is explained bv the discovery of this new shoal, and 
by the strength and direction of the currents. It was a matter 
of reasonable surprise that vessels traveling at a uniform speed, 
supplied with the best means of knowing their position at sea, 
and conducted bv competent navigators, should have proved to be 
so much out of their reckoning; but the discovery of a shoal even 
more extensive than known South Shoal, in a place where 6 and 9 
fathoms are given in the chart, accounts for their supposed error. 

"I was verv much struck with the treacherous character and 
appearance of this whole shoal ground. The deep water comes 
so close to it that a vessel may have a cast of 15, 20, or even 25 
fathoms, and in a moderate breeze be on shore in five minutes. 

"The shoals south and east of Nantucket lie in the way of the 
lareest and richest portion of the foreign and domestic commerce 
of the country. All the vessels from New York trading 10 
Europe, and all those from Boston bound to any port on the 
American coast, to the West Indies, or to the Southern Atlantic 
Ocean, pass in this vicinity ; and of the coasting vessels, all those 
bound from Boston and places farther east, to any of the 
Southern ports, are equally exposed. This includes the coasters 

John Newland Maffitt 63 

between Boston and New York, many of which, encountering a 
head wind and tide at the entrance of Nantucket Sound, run to 
the southward of the island, and follow the channel inside of 
the 'Old Man.' The mention of this last shoal reminds me that 
I found no pilot in Nantucket who could inform me what was 
the least water on it, and whether, or in what part, it could be 

A preliminary chart or sketch, intended to show the position 
and general limits of the "new South Shoal," as determined by 
Lieut. Com. Davis, is given with this report. More perfect 
determinations will hereafter be presented; but this embraces 
data too important, in regard to position and currents and 
soundings, to be withheld because the work is not finished. 


Removal to Baltimore — His first son, Eugene Anderson, born — Tragedy — 
Report of Professor Bache embodying work of Lieutenant Maffitt in 
the hydrography of Boston Harbor, 1847 — Hydrography of Nantucket 
shoals for 1848 and 1849 — Hydrographic Survey of Hatteras cove and 
inlet, N. C, and report and sketch of same by Lieut. Comdg. Maffitt — 
Survey of Charleston Harbor — Maffitt's report in relation to a light- 
house at Bull's Bay, S. C. — Discoveries by Coast Survey, 1850 — 
"Maffitt's Channel" — Maffitt made assistant on Coast Survey — Survey 
of Beaufort Harbor and Cape Fear bars, N. C. — Maffitt's letters in 
regard to lights, beacon, and buoys on coasts of North and South 
Carolina — His sailing directions. 

When, in 1842, Lieutenant Maffitt was ordered to the Coast 
Survey, and later learned that his work would keep him on the 
North Atlantic coast for some time, he removed his family to 
Baltimore, rented a house, and engaged a long-known and 
faithful Irishman to look after his interests and the necessities 
of his family during his enforced absences. 

Here, November, 1844, his first son, Eugene Anderson, was 
born, and his happiness seemed complete, and for a time 
continued so. It was while he was engaged in the surveys 
of Nantucket Harbor and Martha's Vineyard, having his family 
near him, and in the midst of his trying, dangerous, and 
exacting work, that the tragedy befell which wrecked his 
home. But upon this period of his life let silence fall — an 
account of it has no place here. The broken threads of his 
life were gathered up and its warp and woof rewoven, but 
the scars remained. 

As the reports of Professor Bache show the work, that of 
hydrography, upon which Lieutenant Maffitt was engaged 
during the years of his connection with the important develop- 
ments of the United States Coast Survey, they are necessarily 
a part of his life record, and as such the following extracts 
are given. They show the difficulties under which this work 

John Newland Maffitt 65 

was accomplished, and the want of the facilities of the present 
day of great inventions and accurate instruments. 

Report of the Superintendent of the Coast Survey, showing the 
progress of the work during the year ending October, 1847. 

Sir : The regulations of the Coast Survey requiring a report 
of progress to be made at this time to the Secretary of the 
Treasury to be laid before the President and Congress, I have 
the honor to submit, accordingly, a report for the past year. 

* * * The hydrographic work in Boston Harbor (see 
sketch A) was commenced in June and continued in the schooner 
Gallatin, until by the transfer of the revenue steam vessel Bibb 
to the Coast Survey, about the middle of July, the requisite 
facilities for work on the Nantucket shoals had been provided. 

The results are reported by Lieut. Commanding Davis as 
follows : 

"My first object was to complete the examination of the 
ground between the Old and New South Shoals, and to determine 
the extent and character of the dangerous ridge to the northward 
and eastward of the New South Shoal, the existence of which 
was discovered last year. It was found that the water shoals 
on this ridge rapidly from 23 to 24 fathoms. In strong winds 
the sea must break here, and in a heavy gale the destruction of a 
vessel would be quite as certain as on one of the shoals. 

"After running some lines to the northward of the Old South 
Shoal, I took up the survey of the 'Old Man' and 'Bass Rip' and 
the neighboring channels. 

"In the channel to the eastward of 'Bass Rip' a shoal was dis- 
covered having only 16 feet of water on it, where 2 fathoms is 
marked on the best charts. Another shoal was found to the 
southward and eastward of Great Point Light of some extent, 
with 16 and 18 feet on it, where the charts give 5 fathoms. A 
sketch accompanies this report, showing the positions of these 
shoals and of the ridge. Currents were observed on board the 
station vessels, and frequent specimens of the bottom were taken. 
The great value of the latter will appear when the chart of this 
region is finished. ' 

"The discoveries of the past and present year prove the great 
importance of this chart. Those now in the hands of navigators 
are neither accurate nor sufficiently minute. 

"The results of our labor are anxiously looked for; no chart 
that can be issued from the office of the Coast Survey, will b< 

66 The Life and Services of 

more generally serviceable, or excite greater interest. It can 
probably be prepared in another season, with the constant employ- 
ment of a steam vessel, provided that exclusive attention is given 
to this object during the months suitable for working in this 
exposed situation." 

The limits of the sounding sheet are shown in sketch A, where 
the sheet is numbered. 

i. After closing work on the shoals, Lieut. Com. Davis, in the 
Bibb, returned to Boston Harbor to make the deep-sea soundings 
there, and Lieutenant Maffitt, U. S. N., was detached to run some 
lines of soundings in the Vineyard Sound (see sketch A, sheet 
No. 3) and to complete the hydrography of Hyannis Harbor and 
its approaches, which was accomplished by the 24th of September 
(see sketch A, sheet No. 4). Since that time the whole party has 
been diligently engaged in finishing the work of Boston Harbor 
for the commissioners, and there is now no doubt, that notwith- 
standing all the hindrances of the season, the weather having 
been even worse for hydrography than that of last year, then 
considered so unpropitious, the work will be completed. 

Extract from the Report of the Superintendent of the Coast 
Survey, showing the progress of the work for the year ending 
November 13, 1848. 

Bodies Island, North Carolina, 
November 14, 1848. 
* % * * * * * 

10. Hydrography. — The hydrography of the Nantucket shoals, 
and of the vicinity of Nantucket Island, has been continued by 
the party under the command of Lieut. Charles H. Davis, United 
States Navy, assistant in the Coast Survey. The vessels employed 
have consisted of the steamer Bibb, the schooner Gallatin, and a 
hired tender of 95 tons burthen. The Gallatin was under the 
command of Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, United States Navy. In his 
report at the end of the season, Lieut. Commanding Davis 
remarks : 

"The progress made in the first month of the season (July) 
was so very satisfactory that there was but little doubt of com- 
pleting before the end of the season the survey beyond the new 
South Shoal on the south and on the meridian of Great Rip on the 

John Newland Maffitt 67 

"A chart having- these limits, and embracing the anchorage 
under Great Point on the north, would be of the highest value 
to the foreign and coasting trade. It would be in demand abroad 
as well as at home. 

"But the very dangerous character of the ground requires that 
every possible care should be used to insure accuracy, and in 
accordance with this view the South Shoal charts already issued 
have been called 'Preliminary Sketches,' leaving an opening for 
future corrections, if, upon a comparison of the work of separate 
seasons, any should be found necessary. The necessity for 
accuracy, arising from the dangerous nature of the ground, is 
increased by the imperfections of the existing charts, and it is 
the reiterated proof of this imperfection, and the constant dis- 
covery of new shoals, which, more than anything else, has com- 
pelled me most unwillingly to report to you the necessity for 
giving another season to the outer Nantucket shoals. 

"Five new shoals, discovered during the present year, have 
already been reported to the public, and another shoal or bank 
has since been discovered, 18 miles from Nantucket, of equal 
importance to any of the preceding. But the weather during the 
month of August has also been a cause of our not completing 
the proposed chart this season. It proved a greater drawback 
than usual. The fog was so continuous and dense, that the 
vessels have more than once laid at anchor on the shoals without 
seeing each other for 48 hours, though only a few miles apart." 
Among the disagreeable incidents of the season was the danger 
run by the schooner Gallatin in her return to Boston Harbor, 
having been caught in a violent northeast gale off Scituate rock?! 
The vessel suffered damage, easily repaired, in her spars and 
sails, but no further. Her situation at one period of the gale is 
represented to have been perilous. Two vessels under similar 
circumstances went ashore on Scituate rocks. After the season 
was so far advanced (September) as to render further work on 
Nantucket _ shoals impracticable, the schooner Gallatin was 
employed in observations of currents in Boston Harbor, which, 
by great industry, were completed before the close of the season! 
Tidal observations at this important port have been kept up 
throughout the year. 

The office work of this party during last winter was quite 
arduous. The notes of the hydrography of the South Shoals, of 
Boston Harbor, and of Hyannis Harbor, including soundings, 

68 The Life and Services of 

currents, tides, and sailing directions, were all copied, the reduc- 
tions made, and the work plotted. 

Appendix No. i 

Distribution of the parties of the Coast Survey upon the coast 
of the United States, during the surveying season, in the different 
parts of the coast, from November, 1847, to November, 1848. 

Operations — Hydrography. — Lieut. Comdg. Charles H. Davis, 
United States Navy; Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, United States 
Navy, — double party. 

Hydrography of Nantucket shoals continued. Of Muskeget 
channel, by Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. Navy. Observa- 
tions of tides and currents in Boston Harbor. Report on Light- 
house on Sankaty Head, Nantucket, by Lieut. Comdg. Charles 
H. Davis. 

Report of the Superintendent of the Coast Survey, shozving the 
progress of the work for the year ending November, 1849. 

Mount Independence, 
Near Portland, Maine, October, 1849. 

* * * The hydrography of the Nantucket shoals has been 
continued with two vessels (one a steamer) and Bass River and 
Wellfleet, harbors of refuge, have been sounded out. The obser- 
vations of tides and currents in Martha's Vineyard Sound have 
been in progress. The soundings required to complete the chart 
of Muskeget channel have been made, and the chart itself nearly 
completed. The chart of Hyannis Harbor has been engraved. 

The hydrosraphic party under Lieut. -Comdg. Davis, U. S. N., 
commenced their work on Nantucket shoals in July, and soon 
after, Lieut. Comdg. Davis was relieved from duty on the Coast 
Survey, and the charge of the party devolved on Lieut. Comdg. 
Charles H. McBlair, by whom the work was continued until the 
first week in October. The steamer Bibb, the schooner Morris, 
under the command of Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, and a tender, 
were assigned to the work of the shoals ; at its close the tender 
was discharged ; and Lieut. Comdg. Maffitt proceeded to Wilming- 
ton, Delaware, to repair the schooner Gallatin for the continuation 
of the survey of Charleston Harbor. 

The usually short season on the shoals was this year much 
interrupted by gales and fogs. The general chart of the shoals has 
been considerably enlarged by the work done to the southward 

John Newland Maffitt 69 

of New South Shoal, southward and westward of Old Man and 
to the northward and eastward of all shoals; and in addition a 
great deal of filling-in work has been accomplished on the work 
of the previous seasons. 

The area included in this work is 353 square miles, the number 
of miles run in soundings 746, and the number of soundings taken 

The four shoals discovered by Lieut. Comdg. McBlair, in what 
is known as the "main ship channel over the Nantucket shoals," 
are marked on sketch A, and are described in the Appendix 
No. 3, in which Lieut. Comdg. McBlair's report is given in full. 
The shoalest has 9 feet of water upon it, the deepest 15, and 
the two others 14. The group lies between 85° 40' E. and 37° E. 
(true) from Great Point light, and between 9.5 and 10.7 nautical 
miles in distance, and can be recognized, except at slack water, 
by the ripple on them, and in daylight in black water by the dis- 
coloration of the water. 

Two spots of small extent were also discovered, having eighteen 
feet of water on them at low water, and bearing from Great Point 
light 85° 40' E., distant 9.8 nautical miles ; and 85° 10' E., distant 
1 1.2 nautical miles. 

Lieut. Comdg. McBlair remarks : 

"The importance of the discovery of the small shoals in the 
ship channel over the Nantucket shoals I need not revert to 
particularly, as this has already been made the subject of a special 

"Nothing could more fully exhibit the benefits conferred by the 
Coast Survey upon the navigating interests of the country, than 
the determination of the dangerous shoals in the very track of 
large fleets of merchant vessels of all nations, which were entirely 
unknown before to the oldest and most experienced pilots, and it 
is still a mystery to me that they should so long have escaped 

"The area of the work in Bass River Harbor is 33 square miles, 
the number of miles run in soundings 190, and the number of 
soundings made 7,926. The chart of this harbor and Wellfleet 
will be at once reduced for an engraving." 

The importance of Wellfleet harbor will appear from the follow- 
ing extract from the report of Lieut. Comdg. McBlair : 

"Our next operation carried into effect your instructions relative 
to Wellfleet Bay. This harbor was thoroughly surveyed from 
the head of the bay to the southern shore, and far enough to the 
westward to embrace the shoal making out from Billingsgate 


70 The Life and Services of 

Island, almost 4^ miles W. by S. In the progress of this work 
we determined the positions of several dangerous rocks that were 
known only to the fishermen, and some but vaguely known to 

"It will not escape your attention that the determination of the 
shoals in the neighborhood of Billingsgate Island furnishes a 
valuable addition to the chart of our coast by indicating a secure 
and accessible harbor of refuge under the lee of those shoals, to 
vessels which, in doubling Cape Cod in northerly gales, are 
driven too far to leeward to reach Provincetown. The area 
comprised within the limits of our work at Wellfleet consists of 
49 square miles; the sounding lines, run chiefly by boats, may 
be computed at 301 miles, and the casts of the lead obtained 
amount in number to 9,906. 

"While in the harbor of New Bedford, Lieutenant Commanding 
Maffitt determined the position of the new light-house on Palmer's 
Island by request of the collector of the port." 

During last winter the party of Lieutenant Commanding Davis 
were engaged in plotting the charts, reducing the tidal and other 
observations, and representing on diagrams the observations of 
currents of the previous year. 

In Professor Bache's report for the year ending November, 
1850, he says: 

Lieut. Comdg. James Alden, U. S. N., made a reconnaissance 
of the different inlets on the coast of North Carolina from the 
inlet of 1846 to Hatteras inlet, and reports that he found but one 
at all fit for purposes of navigation as an entrance from the sea — 
namely Hatteras inlet — and that having a "bulkhead" in Pamlico 
Sound across the channel with 6 feet of water on it, and a tortuous 
channel on the sound side. As a harbor of refuge this inlet is, 
however, of the greatest value. Attention was first drawn to it 
by a report from Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt, and the exami- 
nation which followed by Lieutenant Commanding Alden con- 
firmed the conclusions in regard to its importance as a harbor of 
refuge from seaward. 

A hydrographic reconnaissance of a harbor of refuge just south 
of Cape Hatteras, which has been formed within the last few 
years, was made by Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt. According 
to his report Hatteras cove lies to the northward and westward 
of the extreme point of Cape Hatteras ; is sheltered from the 
northeast, and affords good anchorage in four or five fathoms 

John Newland Maffitt 71 

of water, with a bottom of "soft blue mud." From the anchorage 
Hatteras light bears N. N. E., distant about one mile and a half. 
Since 1845 the southwest spit of Hatteras has made out nearly 
three-eighths of a mile. 

The sketch prepared by Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt, with 
sailing directions, was at once engraved and distributed. It is 
now appended to this report. (Sketch D, No. 3.) 

Section V. — From Cape Fear to the St. Mary's River, including 
the coasts of the States of South Carolina and Georgia. (Sketch 

The work in this section has made proportionately greater pro- 
gress than was anticipated at the date of my last report. The 
minute reconnaissance for the main triangulation has been con- 
tinued ; the geographical position of a point in the triangulation 
determined ; the secondary triangulation of Charleston Harbor and 
its vicinity, and the topography, have been completed, and the 
hydrography of the approaches to the harbor has been nearly com- 
pleted. Four parties, respectively, under Assistant Boutell, Sub- 
Assistants Gilbert and Bolles, and Lieutenant Commanding Maf- 
fitt, have been employed during the last spring in advancing the 
work in this section. 

Hydrography. — The hydrography of the approaches to Charles- 
ton Harbor was commenced as early in the season as the land work 
furnished data for the soundings. The schooner Morris, trans- 
ferred from the Quartermaster-General's department, United 
States Army, was altered so as to adapt her to hydrographic pur- 
poses, under the direction of Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt, 
United States Navy, assistant in Coast Survey. The work was 
commenced by the 1st of May and continued until June, during 
which time the bar and its approaches were sounded out. The 
party of Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt is under instructions to 
return to this section for the completion of the hydrography of 
the harbor and its approaches. A permanent tide station has been 
established in the cove of Sullivan's Island through the kind assist- 
ance of Colonel Erving, U. S. Army, commanding at Fort 

Before closing his work in this section, Lieutenant Command- 
ing Maffitt made a hydrographic reconnaissance of Bull's bay, 
about 23 miles northeast of Charleston — a sketch of which is 
appended to this report. (Sketch E, No. 2.) He recommends 

72 The Life and Services of 

the erection of a light-house on the northeast bluff of Bull's Island, 
to facilitate the entrance at night into this valuable harbor of 

The important hydrographic reconnaissance made by Lieutenant 
Commanding Maffitt of Hatteras cove, and his services during the 
last winter and the season just closed, have been already referred 
to in connection with sections IV and I of the coast. 

Note to be placed at the head of this section IV, page 37, No. 
5. — The importance of the developments near Hatteras made this 
season cannot be overrated, nor can too much vigilance be used in 
determining whether the important harbors of refuge, Hatteras 
cove and Hatteras inlet, are to continue from natural causes to 
afford on this exposed part of our coast the security to navigators 
which they now furnish. 

The drawings required by the hydrographic results of each 
season are made by the parties who executed the work afloat, and 
therefore do not come into the detail of office work. 

Appendix No. 13. 

Report of Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. N., assistant in the 

Coast Survey, to the Superintendent, in relation to a light-house 

at Bull's Bay, on the coast of South Carolina. 

Sir : I respectfully recommend the erection of a light-house on 
the northeast bluff of Bull's Island, that this harbor of refuge may 
be useful to navigators when caught in this vicinity during the 

I propose an inferior light, that could not be confounded with 
Charleston light, which is, however, (when 7 miles off) easily 
denoted by five beacons for crossing the bar at night, and in making 
"Bull's Bay" revolving light, "Cape Roman," a "fixed red light," 
would be distinctly seen on the starboard hand in approaching 
and entering. 

The advantage of this harbor is obvious, as vessels bound to the 
northward, and caught in a northeast gale, can find shelter, instead 
of being driven out of their course, while making an offing to the 

Again, vessels bound to Charleston and caught in the vicinity 
of Cape Roman, with heavy weather from the northward and 
eastward, eastward, and the southward and eastward, could have 
anchorage in safety, as it is impossible to cross the bar at Charles- 

John Newland Maffitt 73 

ton with the wind heavy from the direction last named, and to 
make an offing- would generally drive them a number of days from 
their destination before the weather became favorable. 
Respectfully, your obedient servant, 

J. N. Maffitt, 
Lieut. Commanding, and Assistant U. S. Coast Survey. 

To Professor A. D. Bache, 

Superintendent U. S. Coast Survey, Portland, Maine. 

Report of the Superintendent of the Coast Survey, showing the 
progress of the work for the year ending November, 1850. 

Webb's Station, Anne Arundel Co., Md., 
November, 1850. 
Sir : I have the honor to submit the annual report of progress 
of the Coast Survey which the regulations of the Treasury Depart- 
ment require, that it may be presented to the President and 


Scarcely any portion of our coast has been thoroughly surveyed 
which has not yielded important discoveries. The broken ground 
off Nantucket has proved different in extent and character from 
what was previously supposed. Davis shoal on the south, Davis 
bank on the east, McBlair's shoals on the north, were with manv 
minor dangers, previously quite unknown; indeed, the discoverv 
of Davis shoal was received at first by many seafaring men with 
suspicion, which would have been removed at too heavy a cost 
had the fine steamer which touched upon it in 1849 Deen lost there, 
or the gallant line-of-battle ship returning from a long foreign 
cruise, which struck, been sacrificed upon it. Gedney's channel, 
at the entrance of the great commercial port of New York, and 
Blake's channel in Delaware Bay, were actually buoyed out before 
their existence was generally admitted. The discovery of twenty- 
one feet of water on Mobile entrance bar, by Lieutenant Patter- 
son, has effected already important changes in the commerce of 
that city. Saint Andrew's shoals, on the coast of Georgia ; the 
Hetzel shoal, off Cape Canaveral ; the new channel into Key West, 
by Lieut. John Rogers, have been discoveries of value. The 
existence of Hatteras cove and Hatteras inlet, first publicly 
announced to navigators by Lieutenant Maffitt, may almost be 
ranked with them. 

74 The Life and Services of 

The law of 1843 ver Y properly limited the services of officers 
of the Navy to the hydrographic parts of the work — the portions 
which have a professional bearing-, and towards which the inclina- 
tions of a nautical man may turn with professional pride. 

Hydrography. — The party of Lieut. Comdg. Chas. H. McBlair, 
United States Navy, assistant in the Coast Survey, has continued 
the survey of the shoals near Nantucket. (Sketch A.) The steamer 
Bibb, the schooner Gallatin, commanded by Lieut. Comdg. J. N. 
Maffitt, and a hired vessel, serving chiefly as a floating station, have 
been engaged in the work. From the 9th of July to the 22d of 
August the party was employed on the Nantucket shoals. The out- 
line, extent, and depth of water of the great Rip shoal, and its 
approaches, were determined, and some lines run to the southward, 
and southward and westward of Davis's new south shoal, import- 
ant as affecting the question of the existence of other shoals to the 
south of Davis's, of which thus far there is no indication. Between 
this date and the 6th of September the soundings required to 
complete the hydrography of Muskeget channel and its approaches 
were made. The party next took up the soundings between Gay 
Head and Block Island, for the offshore chart, and finished the 
part of the work requiring close soundings, extending about 
twelve miles south of Gay Head, and westward to a junction with 
the former hydrography in this region, and two offshore lines of 
about thirty miles each, commencing also the work between the 
islands of No Man's Land and Martha's Vineyard. The Gallatin 
was then detached to execute some supplementary hydrography 
in Boston Harbor, and to prepare for taking her place in Section V. 

Lieutenant Commanding McBlair remarks : 

"The season generally was very unfavorable to hydrographic 
operations in the localities in which we were employed. During 
the months of July and August the weather was alternately foo-gy 
or boisterous, entirely defeating every effort to continue the survey 
of the shoals. The few suitable days we had in September we 
employed in the Muskeget channel and Gay Head hydrography." 

The reconnaissance by Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt, of 
Beaufort Harbor, North Carolina, induced a request from a por- 
tion of the citizens for a complete survey, and I accordingly 
detailed a party for the triangulation ; a notice of which, and of 
the additional hydrography will be given in the details of the dif- 
ferent operations. (See sketch D, No. 5.) 

John Newland Maffitt 75 

The chart of Pasquotank River, and sketches of Hatteras inlet 
and of Beaufort Harbor reconnaissance have been engraved and 

>fc $ s|j ><j $ $ ♦ 

There seems to be no doubt that Lieutenant Commanding Maf- 
fitt has discovered a new channel across the bar, through which 
the same depth of water can be carried as through the main ship 
channel, more direct for vessels coming from the eastward and 
northward, but narrow, interrupted by lumps, and not straight. 
When proper sea marks are placed for this channel it may be used. 
A comparison of the remains of the old marks for entering the 
main ship channel with the new, shows that it has moved to the 
southward, a fact which the old charts also confirm. The depth 
remains nearly or quite unchanged as far as the old data enable 
us to judge. The materials of the bar are all from seaward, or 
from the coast and not from the rivers. 

Hydrography. — Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, United States 
Navy, assistant in the Coast Survey, has continued the hydrog- 
raphy of Charleston harbor, and of its approaches, making all the 
progress which the stormy character of the season would permit. 
The inner harbor has been almost entirely sounded, from Craft's 
Signal on the Ashley River and Oyster Point on the Cooper to 
the bar, inclusive. Particular attention has been given to the bar, 
the soundings extending on an average of six miles from the 
shore line. The space surveyed comprises an area of eighty-three 
square miles, in which 35 current stations were occupied ; 225 
specimens of bottom, and 45,360 casts of the lead were taken ; and 
2,589 angles observed. A short distance to the southward and 
westward of the "Swash channel" a channel of 11 feet has been 
found. It is proper to state that this channel is circuitous, but if 
properly buoyed it may be used for towing out and in, entering 
with certain winds. Subsequent attention will, however, be 
directed to this point. The previous surveys of the Charleston 
bar have not been sufficiently close to admit of comparison with 
this, so that there are no recorded data for determining the pro- 
gressive changes in the various channels. The oldest pilots, how- 
ever, and other persons long resident on this part of the coast, 
assert that the bar, has been continually working to the southward. 
The beacon for entering the main ship channel is 400 yards farther 
to the southward and westward now than it was 18 years ago, 
showing a very material change in the channel in that direction, 
and sustaining the opinion expressed above. I found by taking 
specimens of the water on the bar at different stages of the tides 

76 The Life and Services of 

and at various depths, that those taken on the flood tide were filled 
with marine sediment, while those taken on the ebb came up clear. 
This would seem to indicate that the bar deposits, when stirred 
up and borne along by the flood, are deposited on the change of 

In passing the coast off the light-boat in St. Helena Sound, the 
steamer Georgia, Lieut. D. D. Porter commanding, struck what 
was supposed to be a shoal, the direction of which was observed, 
and distance from the light-boat estimated. I directed Lieutenant 
Commanding Maffitt to examine this locality, which he did with- 
out finding shoal water, the sea being so rough during the con- 
tinuance of his search that he is of the opinion that a 17-foot spot 
must have been shown by breakers upon it. His letter is given 
in the appendix to this report, No. 18. 

The drawings required by the hydrographic results of each 
season are made by the parties who executed the work afloat, and 
therefore do not come into the details of office work. 

Appendix No. 18. 

Letters of Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, United States Navy, assist- 
ant in the Coast Survey, to the Superintendent in relation to his 
examination in the vicinity of St. Helena Sound, coast of South 

United States Schooner "Gallatin," 
Charleston, April 12, 1850. 
Dear Sir : I returned from a cruise to the southward some six 
days ago ; having during my absence made a diligent search for 
the shoal reported by Captain Porter of the steamer Georgia. 
March 29th, with the tender, I started from St. Helena bar, the 
light-boat bearing north by west, and run south by east 14 miles ; 
kept three leads going on board this vessel, and one on board the 

The soundings deepened regularly from 4^ fathoms to 9 and 
10. I then run several close traverses back, increasing them in the 
position assigned to the shoal. The wind was fresh from the north- 
ward and eastward, with quite a heavy sea running — sufficient to 
have formed breakers on a 17-foot spot. For 12 hours this 
search was continued, only discontinued by bad weather coming 
on, which drove me into Savannah — crossing the bar on the 30th 
in a heavy gale. I am of the opinion that no 17- foot shoal exists 
in the position assigned by Captain Porter. He reports that at the 

John Newland Maffitt 77 

moment of striking, heavy pieces of timber floated by ; and as large 
timber rafts are frequently driven to sea from Helena Sound, it 
is not impossible that the Georgia may have struck on one of them. 
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

J. N. Maffitt, 
Lieutenant Commanding, and Assistant U. S. Coast Survey. 

Prof. A. D. Bache, 

Superintendent U. S. Coast Survey, Washington, D. C. 

Extract from the Report of the Superintendent of the U. S. Coast 
Survey, 185 1. 6\ Doc. 3. 

Coast Survey Station, 
Cape Small Point Main, November 5, 185 1. 

Within the year, the Geographical Societies of London, Paris, 
and Berlin have given the most unequivocal evidence of their 
interest in and approval of the character of the coast survey. * * 
* In connection with the subject [answer of Lieutenant Com- 
manding McBlair to questions from the Light-House Board] I pre- 
sent the following extract from a report (November, 1850) of 
Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt, United States Navy, assistant in 
the coast survey : 

"I examined a rock in the main ship channel, Boston Harbor, 
near the buoy of the Lower Middle, upon which the British Mail 
steamship Cambria struck, and found it to be identical with a 
rock already found on the Coast Survey chart to be seen in the 
work of 1847." 

Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, United States Navy, assistant in 
the Coast Survey, with the hydrographic party under his com- 
mand, which has been for the most part employed in Section V, 
visited this section in December last, to complete the hydrography 
of Beaufort, North Carolina ; and has furnished a chart of the bar 
and harbor. (Sketch D, No. 5.) 

The statistics of this supplementary work in Beaufort harbor 
are as follows: 53 miles sounded over by 1,289 soundings; 88 
angles measured ; 36 specimens of the bottom obtained ; and 3 sets 
of observations were made upon currents. 

^ ^c :j: >S= >K * * 

The same party returned to this section and undertook in Octo- 
ber of this year, the hydrographic reconnaissance of the entrance 

78 The Life and Services of 

to the Cape Fear and New rivers, North Carolina. The lateness 
of the season prevents their results from being received in time 
to be embodied in this report. 

Tidal observations havt been made at Smithville (Fort Johnson 
wharf) day and night since July i, and five current stations had 
been occupied. 

Hydrography. — Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, United States 
Navy, with the Coast Survey schooner Gallatin (after being for 
a few days employed in Section IV), returned to this section 
December 12, 1850. He resumed the survey of Charleston bar 
and approaches, and in about one month completed the soundings 
requisite for the chart of that harbor. Thence he passed to North 
Edisto inlet, South Carolina, and after much interruption from 
boisterous weather, finished March 5, 1851, the hydrography of 
that river and bar. (Sketch E, No. 7.) In the Appendix (No. 30 
tris) are sailing directions, which have been published, furnished 
by Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt for the entrance into that 
harbor of refuee. It is about sixteen miles to the southward and 
westward of Charleston light-house, and is easy of access, one 
course over the bar taking the vessel to a safe anchorage. At mean 
low water there are 13 feet on the bar. The mean rise and fall is 6 

The hydrographical reconnaissance of Savannah bar and river 
was next undertaken ; the shore parties cooperating being fur- 
nished with a boat's crew from the vessel. The work completed 
June 4 extends from one mile outside of the outer bar buoy, 
embraces the "Main," "Front," and "Back" rivers, and terminates 
at Argyle Tree, 6 miles above the city of Savannah. (Sketch E, 
Nos. 4 and 5.) 

The statistics of the work in this section is as follows : 

Number of observations of angles 2,069 

Number of soundings 60,001 

Miles sounded over 1,237 

Number of specimens taken of bottom 95 

Number of sets of current observations 14 

From the Savannah River Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt 
returned to Section IV, and after necessary delays for repairs of 
vessel and shipment of a crew, entered on the reconnaissance of 
the bars of Smithville and New rivers, North Carolina. 

A permanent tide gauge was erected at Fort Pulaski, entrance 
of Savannah River, where careful observations, day and night, of 
the tides have been regularly made since January. 

John Newland Maffitt 79 

A permanent tide gauge has also been erected at Castle Pinkney 
in Charleston Harbor; but circumstances have not heretofore 
permitted tidal observations to be made with the same regularity. 

At North Edisto inlet the tides were observed, day and night, 
for ei^ht weeks. 

Besides their field work, Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt and 
party have completed and turned in the following office work, in 
mapping their results, viz : 

A chart of Charleston bar and harbor. Another of the same 
bar and approaches, with additional work on Rattlesnake shoals, 
which was off the limits of the original sheet. A chart of Savannah 
bar, from one mile outside of the outer bar buoy to Cockspur. 
One of the Savannah main river, from Cockspur to Shad's 
Chimney. Another of Savannah Front and Back rivers, from 
Shad's Chimney to Argyle Tree. A chart of North Edisto bar 
and river. Charts of Beaufort, North Carolina, bar and harbor. 

Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt renders acknowledgments for 
the courtesy and facilities extended to him, while employed in 
Savannah River, by the officers of the Army stationed there. 

Appendix No. 6. 
List of Coast Survey discoveries and developments. 
1 8. New channel into Charleston, with same depth of water 
as the ship channel (Maffitt's channel), 1850. 

Extracts from letter of Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. Navy, 
assistant in Coast Survey, in reply to above letter of the Super- 
intendent in relation to lights, beacons, and buoys needed on 
the coast of North and South Carolina — Sections IV and V. 

United States Schooner "Gallatin," 
August 10, 1 85 1. 
Sir : I have received your "circular" of the 20th ultimo, enclos- 
ing a copy of a letter from the Secretary of the Light-House Board. 
I propose three sets of bug-lights for Beaufort, North Caro- 
lina — first, a single light, due north of the present channel buoy ; 
second, a range light, for crossing the bar, or for the first course 
in ; third, a range light on "Lower Bank" for the second course to 
anchorage. Two additional buoys are also required to mark out 
the channel. 

80 The Life and Services of 

A bug-light is required for the upper jetty of the Cape Fear 
River. There should be three spar-buoys in Charleston Harbor, 
one at each end of the "Middle Ground," the other at "White 
Point" to define the end of that spit for the benefit of vessels 
bound up the Ashley. 

A couple of beacons for a range should be erected near "Fort 
Johnson" as a guide for vessels to clear "Sumter Flats" and the 
end of the "Middle" when bound in or out of the south city 

To render South Edisto serviceable as a harbor of refuge, a 
second-order light should be placed on Seabrook Point, and three 
buoys in the channel-way. Charleston light should be a "fixed 
light," with improved reflectors. No light should revolve — that 
is, one for a range for entering a narrow channel, as the loss of it, 
even for a few seconds, might be attended with danger. I have 
frequently experienced the truth of this. The beacon-light con- 
nected with the main light should be increased in brilliancy and 
shifted farther south, to render the range complete for crossing 
in the best water. A railway for this beacon is required, as the 
bar is materially influenced by northwest storms, and the range 
consequently changing to southward. 

The "Overall beacons" of Charleston Harbor are useless, lead- 
ing a vessel into 6 feet at low water. I propose that they be shifted 
to Fort Sumter, as a range for the Swash channel, one-eighth of a 
mile south of the North and the same depth of water. This would 
enable coasting vessels and steamers that now use the North chan- 
nel to enter the harbor at night by the Swash. 

A buoy is required on the southwest end of the Rattlesnake 

The lights at Hatteras and Roman are very poor; both should 
be overhauled and furnished with improved reflectors. 

Bell-boats would be of infinite service at the extreme point of 
Cape Lookout and the Frying Pan shoal. 

The light-boat at Martin's Industry, South Carolina, should be 
furnished with two good lights, one forward and the other aft, of 
different elevations, that the boat may not bt confounded with St. 
Helena light-boat. As the light-boat on Martin's Industry is old 
and unfit for its exposed and dangerous position, I propose that a 
new light-boat of great capacity, with an additional light, be 
placed on that shoal, and the present boat be moored off Hilton 
Head, Georgia, to mark the point of Grenadier shoal, which lies 

John Newland Maffitt 81 

due north from Tybee light. It is a dangerous spot and a light- 
boat has repeatedly been called for by the Charleston and Savannah 
Steamboat Company. 

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant, 

John N. Maffitt, 
Lieut. Commanding, and Assistant U. S. Coast Survey. 

Appendix No. 29. 
Letter of the Superintendent of the Coast Survey to the Secretary 
of the Treasury, communicating a report of Lieut. Comdg. J. N. 
Maffitt, U. S. N., assistant in the Coast Survey, upon the neces- 
sity for certain aids to navigation in Beaufort Harbor, North 

Coast Survey Office. 
February 27, 1851. 
Sir: I have the honor to transmit a report just received from 
Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. N., assistant in the Coast Sur- 
vey, of buoys and beacon (or range) lights, required in the harbor 
of Beaufort, North Carolina, the hydrography of which has been 
executed by the party under his command, and would respectfully 
request that it may, with the accompanying sketch showing the 
position of the beacons and lights, be transmitted to the authority 
which should act in the matter. 

Very respectfully yours, 

A. D. Bache, 
Superintendent U. S. Coast Survey. 

Hon. Thomas Corwin, 

Secretary of the Treasury. 

Report of Lieut. Comdg. John N. Maffitt, U. S. N., assistant in 

the Coast Survey, to the Superintendent, in relation to lights and 

buoys in Beaufort Harbor, North Carolina. 

United States Schooner "Gallatin," 
North Edisto, S. C, February 8, 185 1. 

Sir : I respectfully propose the following improvements in the 
harbor of Beaufort, North Carolina, for the purpose of rendering 
it safe for a vessel to enter without a pilot, by day or night, viz : 

1st. A single bug-light on Shackleford Point, due north of 
Bar buoy (which should be brought to bear north and then run 
for, until the first range course is made). 

82 The Life and Services of 

2d. Ttuo bug-lights west of Fort Macon, to be placed in range 
for first course after passing the Bar buoy. (See sketch.) 

3d. Two bug-lights — one on Macon Point, the other on the 
Marsh in the rear — giving the range for course No. 2. (See 
sketch. ) 

4th. A buoy on 10-foot spot, and marked on the sketch Buoy 
No. 2. 

5th. A buoy on the south spit of the middle ground, marked 
on sketch Buoy No. 3. 

6th. A buoy in mouth of the slue, marked on the sketch Buoy 
No. 4. 

7th. A buoy on the west side of the middle ground, marked 
on the sketch Buoy No. 5. 

With such guides a stranger could enter, by day or night, with- 
out fear. 

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant, 

J. N. Maffitt, 
Lieut. Comdg., Assistant U. S. Coast Survey. 

Prof. A. D. Bache, 

Superintendent U. S. Coast Survey. 

Appendix No. 30. 
Letter of the Superintendent of the Coast Survey to the Secretary 
of the Treasury, communicating a report of Lieut. Comdg. J. N. 
Maffitt, U. S. N., assistant in the Coast Survey, on the necessity 
for a light-house on the upper jetty, Cape Fear River, North 

Cape Small Point, 
Near Bath, Maine, October 15, 1851. 
Sir: I have the honor to report, that in conformity with the 
act approved March 3, 1851, making appropriations for light- 
houses, buoys, etc., and the instructions of the department, the 
question of the necessity for a light-house on the upper jetty of 
Cape Fear River has been examined, and that I recommend the 
construction of the same for the reason assigned in the report of 
Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, United States Navy, assistant in the 
Coast Survey. 

The report of Lieutenant Maffitt is herewith transmitted, with 
the "eye sketch" which accompanies it. 

Very respectfully yours, 

A. D. Bache, 
Superintendent U. S. Coast Survey. 
Hon. Thomas Corwin, 

Secretary of the Treasury. 

John Newland Maffitt 83 

Smithville, N. C, September 12, 1851. 

Dear Sir: I have visited the upper jetties of the Cape Fear 
River, and herewith enclose to you an "eye sketch" of that section, 
where some improvements are requisite for the benefit of 

On the upper eastern jetty (No. 2) a light is certainly required 
that steamers and sailing vessels bound down at night may be 
enabled to keep the "fair channel way," which they cannot always 
do at present, from the fact that as the field of view is opened 
from just above Graham's Island, jetty No. 2 trenches entirely 
athwart the apparent channel, and there is no guide which will 
enable a mariner to calculate how to steer, in order to clear this 
jetty, and keep in the best water, which is close to its end. The 
same holds good (from the sudden bend of the river) in sailing up. 

It is not an uncommon circumstance at night for vessels to 
misjudge their distance, and run into jetty No. 2. The upper 
western jetty is out of the channel way; a light there would be 

The "reaches" over Wreck shoal are not long enough to war- 
rant the erection of range lights. 

I consider it necessary that the present buoys be replaced by 
larger ones; and as the forest on each side gives a dark back- 
ground, they should be painted white; they would then always 
be seen on a starlight night. 

I also propose that "tripods," painted white, be erected on jet- 
ties Nos. 3, 4, and 6. They would materially assist the navigator 
in avoiding the shoals, and jetties themselves, which are low in 
the water, dilapidated, and more dangerous to vessels than bene- 
ficial to the river. 

A requisite light-house for the upper eastern jetty should not 
cost over four thousand dollars. 

Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

J. N. Maffitt, 
Lieutenant Commanding, and Assistant Coast Survey. 

Appendix No. 30. 

Report of the Superintendent of the Coast Survey to the Secretary 
of the Treasury, communicating sailing directions for the 
entrance into North Edisto Harbor, by Lieut. Comdg. J. N. 
Maffitt, United States Navy, assistant in the Coast Survey. 

84 The Life and Services of 

Coast Survey Office, 
April 28, 1 85 1. 

Sir : I have the honor to communicate the following informa- 
tion supplied by Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, United States Navy, 
assistant in the Coast Survey, in relation to North Edisto Harbor, 
and to request authority to publish it for the benefit of navigators : 

"This harbor of refuge is about sixteen miles to the southward 
and westward of Charleston light-house. It is easy of access — 
one course over the bar taking the vessel to a safe anchorage. 

"In 4 fathoms of water (with the point of Seabrook Island on 
the north side of the harbor, bearing northwest) you will be close 
up to the bar. 

"Bring Bare Bluff (a remarkable clump of trees which stands 
back from the entrance about ten miles, and can be easily recog- 
nized by four tall trees rising above the others) about four hand- 
spikes to the left of Seabrook point, and run in in that range. 

"When almost off the starboard sand-spit, keep in mid-channel, 
to avoid a sand-flat on that shore. By keeping near mid-channel 
good water may be carried up to the anchorage, abreast of Mr. 
Legare's (the first house upon the port shore). 

"At 'mean low water' there are 13 feet on the bar. The mean 
rise and fall is 6 feet. The ebb-tide on the bar tends to the south- 
ward and eastward — the flood north-northeast. 

"The establishment of North Edisto, for two months' tidal 
observations in 185 1, is seven hours nine minutes." 

Very respectfully yours, etc., 

A. D. Bache, Superintendent. 
Hon. Wm. L. Hodge, 

Acting Secretary of the Treasury. 


Arrival at Smithville, N. C, of surveying party of Maffitt in U. S. schooner 
Gallatin — Reception by citizens and comments on life at this resort — 
Maffitt organizes dramatic company — Dramatis personam — Letter of 
Dr. W. G. Curtis — Incidents of sojourn — Description of an entertain- 
ment by the "Lord of Orton." 

In the year 185 1 Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, in the progress of his 
work of survey on the coast of North Carolina, came, with 
the party under his command, to the ancient village of Smith- 
ville, at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. Fort Johnson 
was located there and was garrisoned by United States troops. 

The topsail schooner Gallatin, commanded by Lieut. J. N. 
Maffitt, reached Smithville from Charleston, South Carolina, 
about June, 1851. The officers of his party were Lieut. 
Alexander Colden Rhind, afterward an admiral in the U. S. 
Navy; Lieutenants John D. Langhorn, J. Colin Hamilton of 
South Carolina, J. Pembroke Jones, J. C. P. De Kraaft, W. D. 
Whiting, afterward a commodore, U. S. N., and Mr. Oscar 
Carnes. The last-named gentleman was a passed midship- 
man, the rank now of sub-lieutenant. In the apportionment 
of work Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt made the hydrog- 
raphy (soundings, tides, etc.), Lieut. C. P. Bolles making 
the triangulations and topography. 

When Lieutenant Maffitt visited Smithville its citizens were 
composed of the best people of the Cape Fear region. Its 
residences, generally deserted in the winter months, were filled 
during the summer and early fall with the elite of Wilmington 
society, then in its zenith of culture, refinement, and that open 
and profuse hospitality for which it has from early colonial 
times been distinguished. The officers of the Coast Survey 
and their families were domiciled at the barracks, in the 
Garrison grounds. 

86 The Life and Services of 

The residents opened their hearts and homes to them and 
vied with each other in rendering their stay a pleasant one. 

Like most small communities having few interests outside 
of themselves, there was at times a tendency to indulge in 
unpleasant gossip, and in order to quell this by giving a new 
source of interest, Lieutenant Maffitt proposed organizing a 
dramatic company; and, to insure the actors against unkind 
criticism of amateurs, he made it a condition of entrance to 
the plays that all who desired to witness the performances 
should sign their names as members of the company before 
receiving their tickets. And this proved a perfect success. 

The dramatis personae of the troupe were : Dr. W. G. 
Curtis, Mr. P. Prioleau, Mrs. Prioleau, Dr. Thomas Hill Miss 
Valeria Brown, afterward Mrs. Megimney, Mr. William 
Smith, Miss Julia Smith, Miss Matilda Cowan, afterward 
Mrs. Denson; Miss Mildred Holmes, afterward Mrs. Brown; 
Mrs. Jessie Frink, wife of Dr. Frink; the Misses Everitt, 
daughters of Dr. Everitt, and Miss Olivia Pritchard. All 
these were residents of Wilmington summering at Smithville. 
save Dr. Curtis, without whom the village would have been 
lacking a leader. Of those attached to Lieutenant Maffitt's 
surveying party, who were also members, were Lieut. A. C. 
Rhind, afterward an admiral of the U. S. Navy; Mr. Oscar 
Carnes, Lieut. Charles P. Bolles. Mr. Carnes, among the 
male members, was a star of the first magnitude. Dr. Curtis 
and Lieutenant Bolles were the other stars, and Mrs. Frink 
among the ladies. 

This troupe was regularly organized. The society of Smith- 
ville could not witness any of the performances unless some 
member or members of each family signed an agreement that 
they would act when called upon by Manager Maffitt. On 
the arrival of strangers in the village, cards of admission were 
sent to them, after their social status had been passed upon by 
the committee appointed for this purpose. 

John Newland Maffitt 87 

All persons, no matter how well known to the company, 
were required to show their tickets to the doorkeeper before 
entering the theater. 

Dr. W. G. Curtis, in a letter to the writer, says : "The old 
residents of Smithville, before the season was over, gave this 
troupe the credit of driving out, or closing the lips of, the 
gossips. In a word, the whole society became a mutual 
admiration society. Harmony prevailed everywhere. Sermons 
were preached every Sunday at the chapel and the services 
were well attended; but the members of the church said, often, 
that the good feeling of all the attendants brought about by 
our troupe put them in a better frame of mind to listen to the 
teachings from the pulpit." 

Many were the amusing incidents of the rehearsals, related 
to me by my husband. Bashful maidens (for there were 
such in those days) had to be posed in graceful positions and 

made to look natural. "Miss O , don't hold your lamp 

so — extend your arm and don't be so stiff in your pose, as 
though you feared a blow." This to one who personated 
"Gulnare" in Byron's "Corsair." In the balcony scene from 
"Romeo and Juliet," the gentleman selected to perform the 
part of Romeo could not play on the guitar, so another was 
hidden under the table which did duty for a balcony, and 
played to the serenade of the fascinating Romeo ; but alas for 
human greatness, just as the scene closed, an accident to the 
vine-covered drapery, which covered the table and hidden 
performer, caused it to fall. The distressed captive, who was 
not prepared for exhibition, was fully revealed and was quite 

At least one dozen plays were brought out by the company 
during the summer of 1852, and among them not the least 
amusing and entertaining was "Box and Cox." To those 
who were acquainted with the stars in this last-named play, 
it was almost impossible to imagine them in such characters. 
The interest and anxiety grave Lieutenant Bolles and austere 
Lieutenant Rhind evinced in regard to their costumes and 

88 The Life and Services of 

essentials before the performance, and the zeal with which 
they entered into their characters, was said to be inimitable. 

Cox — "I should feel obliged to you if you could accommo- 
date me with a more protuberant bolster, Mrs. Bouncer. The 
one I have now seems to me to have about a handful and a 
half of feathers at each end, and nothing whatever in the 
middle." And the manner in which he held up the thin bolster 
and the look of disgust on his face were perfect. 

There was one sweet young lady, long passed away now, 
but who was made a perfect Cinderella by her family, who 
never gave her credit for any of the feelings of youth. One 
evening Lieutenant Rhind was calling at the house and she 
came in, and as the gay party were talking of their sweet- 
hearts, he turned to her and said, 

"And who is your sweetheart, Miss D ?" 

With a sad, downcast look she replied, 

"Nobody loves me, Mr. Rhind." 

With an impulse and emphasis that startled the company 
he exclaimed, 

"They don't; d — d if I don't love you myself!" 

Coming from so grave and dignified a gentleman, it meant 
much, and was an expression of the indignation felt by all at 
the treatment of one who, from her sweet disposition, deserved 
better at the hands of those whose calls upon her services were 

Another favorite was a young lady who, from her fancy 
for flowing streamers from her dress, was called "Miss 
Ribbons." Lieutenant Rhind, on the eve of his departure 
North, asked this young lady what he could bring her from 
New York. 

"A poodle," she cried. 

So on his return to Smithville a basket neatly covered was 
sent to the young lady, who with delighted expectation of the 
coveted gift, opened it, and to her chagrin discovered a china 
dog. Determining to be even with him she quietly bided her 
time, "which always comes to those who know how to wait." 

John Newland Maffitt 89 

Knowing that he was devoted to good music, she assembled 
some friends and invited him to be present to hear them 
discourse most ravishing strains. When he arrived he was 
ushered with great ceremony into a room where some six 
girls, dressed in fancy costumes, after much preparation, 
produced each a Jew's harp, and gave him the benefit of "Days 
of Absence," and such lugubrious tunes as made him cry 

It was a custom even down to the war, that destroyer of 
Arcadian days, for "grave and reverend seniors" and fathers 
to join in all the games of the boys and be young again; even 
kite-flying, football and prisoners' base were joined in by all, 
young and old. In the last-named game the young ladies 
and gentlemen often indulged in the moon-lit garrison 
grounds, amid peals of laughter, as the fleet-footed damsels 
strove to escape being caught. 

The following letter, written by Lieutenant Maffitt under 
the nom de plume of "Crowquill," and published in the 
Wilmington Herald of August 30, 185 1, gives a picture of 
life at Smithville in those days : 

Smithville, N. C, August 28, 1851. 

Mr. Editor: Although we have no "Ocean House," we have 
"oceans" of little houses which are crowded during the summer 
months by the planters and their families from the adjacent planta- 
tions, and a goodly number of the inhabitants of the town of Wil- 
mington who have learned by experience that the climate of Smith- 
ville is not only salubrious and wonderfully healthy, but from its 
very geographical position (trenching into the ocean) is always 
blessed with cool and invigorating sea breezes. 

Here the true philosophy of life is brought to an approximate 
degree of perfection — every one seeming contented and happy, 
the result of good fellowship and the cultivation of those kindly 
sentiments which have merged the inhabitants into grand families. 
Had Rasselas flourished in these days and been so fortunate as to 
have heard of Smithville, there is no doubt but he and the amiable 
Nerkavah would have ceased their wanderings in search of happi- 
ness, purchased a little cottage near the Barracks, and have imbibed 
that contentment of mind which seems to become constitutional 

90 The Life and Services of 

with those who spend their summers in this place. Picnics, fish- 
ing, excursions, and sea bathing afford abundant amusement and 
fine opportunity for the development of the human frame ; while 
tableaux and dramatic exhibitions serve not only to refine the 
taste, but give pleasing occupations to the mind. 

There, Mr. Editor, that is quite preamble enough, and I will 
now proceed to give you a faint idea of a splendid private enter- 
tainment which I had the pleasure of witnessing at the beautiful 
and hospitable mansion of one of our most distinguished citizens. 
On Thursday evening last the beauty of Smithville and the chivalry 
appertaining thereto were gathered together by special invitation, 
not only for the purpose of dancing, but to take part as actors and 
spectators in a series of tableaux, elegant in their conception and 
admirable in their performance. 

The splendid and allegorical programme of the entertainment 
was drawn by that amiable artist Baron O , of Zurich, Switzer- 
land, each piece having its argument fully and clearly setting forth 
its subject-matter. 

About eight o'clock I arrived at the mansion of my friend and 
found the house and grounds beautifully illuminated with varie- 
gated lights. The large balcony in front was decorated for the 
ball-room ; and in the rear garden a miniature stage was erected, 
tastefully decorated, the whole forming a coup d'oeil calculated 
to entrance the senses and force upon the mind the conviction that 
our worthy host held in his possession the famous lamp of 

As I was the only stranger present, mine host took some little 
trouble in escorting me from apartment to apartment and from 
romantic arbor to romantic retreat, until my senses seemed lost in 
their magic charms. Soft and sweet music from concealed orches- 
tras vibrated upon the atmosphere of the stilly night ; the Chinese 
pagoda that fronted the stage proscenium sparkled with a thousand 
lights that fully disclosed the lovely flowers (native and exotic) 
which bloomed around, relieved by rich clusters of scuppernong 
grapes sparkling in their emerald garments. I returned again to 
the ball-room. The Lord of "Orton" had marshaled the dance. 
In truth the arrangements were perfect in all their parts, and 
although the programme of amusements prepared for the evening's 
entertainment was excessive, no confusion occurred, and entire 
order reigned as if a practiced hand had drilled the entire establish- 

Our enchanting hostess was the bright personification of ready 
wit and genius, which, combined with a pleasing and intellectual 

John Newland Maffitt 91 

expression of countenance and graceful person, rendered her not 
only a charming hostess but a fascinating partner in the dance— in 
truth she seemed possessed of the power of ubiquity^ for her 
words of greeting were heard as the guests entered, and instantly, 
as it were, she was seen in the dressing-room assisting in the 
arrangement of some disarranged apparel. 

That your readers may more clearly understand the events of 
the evening I will make a condensed copy of the programme, omit- 
ting the racy details which rendered it so much the subject of 


Overture to Ballhcad, by the Orchestra under direction of Professor Herr 

Von Robinson. 

Dance — Arundle Cotillion. 

Scene i — From the Bride of Lammermoor. 

Lucy Ashton Miss W. 

Colonel Ashton Mr. G. 

Rev. Mr. Bide-the-Bent Mr. L. 

Waltz — Cotillion. 

Scene 2 — Dombey and "The Nipper." 

Susan Nipper Miss W. 

Dombey Mr. B. 

March from Norma, by the Orchestra. 

Grand Promenade. 

Scene 3 — Pickwick and the Middle Aged Lady. 

Lady Miss B. 

Pickwick Doctor C. 

Cotillion — Beautiful Boy. 

Scene 4 — Elopement in High Life. 

Bride Miss W. 

Groom Mr. Q. 

Indignant Mama Mrs. L. 

Furious Papa Mr. P. 

Horrified Aunt Miss B. 

Rev. Mr. Groan Mr. L. 

Polka Cotillion. 

Scene 5 — Mr. and Mrs. Caudle. 

Mrs. Caudle M rs - £■ 

Mr. Caudle Mr - p - 


92 The Life and Services of 

Scene 6 — From Dombey and Son. 

Florence Dombey Miss W. 

Walter Gay Mr. B. 

Captain Cuttle Mr. G. 

Curtsy Cotillion. 

Scene 7 — Gypsy Encampment. 

Gypsy Queen Mrs. P. 

Aliene, Gypsy Girl Miss H. 

Gypsy Chief Mr. N. 

Young Lady Mr. B. 

Young Gentleman Mr. Pope. 

Basket Cotillion. 

Scene 8 — Samuel Weller and the Pretty House-Maid. 

Samuel Weller Mr. P. 

Mary Mrs. P. 

Sociable Cotillion. 

Scene 9 — The Artist's Studio. 

The Beautiful Catena Miss B. 

Artist Mr. T. 

Cotillion — Miss Pliila. 

Scene 10— The Gold Diggers. 

Quicksilver Jack Mr. Q. 

Percussion Bill Mr. B. 


Grand Dance — Combination of Characters. 

At a quarter past eight the cotillion commenced. As the last 
figure was complete four rockets rushed fiercely into the heavens, 
the gong sounded, followed by a wild strain of Arabic music from 
a distance, a blaze of light lit up the stage proscenium, and the 
guests hastened to the beautifully decorated Chinese pagoda. 
When all were assembled the seneschal for the occasion announced 
that a scene from "The Bride of Lammermoor" would be repre- 
sented — the signing of the marriage contract, with Bucklaw by 
Lucy Ashton. She having been led to believe her lover false, by 
the machinations of her mother, mechanically signs her name. At 
this instant her lover, Edgar Ravenswood, care-worn and travel- 
stained, has unexpectedly entered the apartment. Col. Duglass 
Ashton is about to draw on the intruder, Lady Ashton is indignant 

John Newland Maffitt 93 

at his unceremonious entry, Bucklaw raging — but all are held in 
check by the stern Master, and the pious intercessions of the solemn 

As the curtain rose a murmur of admiration burst from the de- 
lighted audience. The picture was indeed perfect. Poor Lucy's 
beautiful but vacant expression of terror, as her cold-hearted, im- 
perious brother sustained her falling form, was well calculated to 
touch the sympathy which naturally passed from her to the mental 
yet manly sufferings of the unfortunate Master of Ravenswood. 
The high-mettled Colonel Ashton, and the solemn expression of 
the argumentative Bide-the-Bent, assisted in rendering this scene 
not only deeply interesting but painfully exciting. 

The curtain fell amid continued expressions of applause. 

The dance was resumed. 

The next in rotation was an admirable scene from "Dombey and 
Son," in which the faithful Susan Nipper gave the egotistical 
pompous Dombey her opinion of his conduct toward his daughter, 
her "Miss Floy," assuring him at the same time that she was no 
Fox's martyr or Indian widow. The vinegary Pipchin in the back- 
ground, with an admirable expression that might have been im- 
ported from the Peruvian mines, gave piquancy to the whole. 

After another cotillion, the next scene was from the "Pickwick 
Papers," in which the venerable Mr. Pickwick has retired for the 
night in the wrong bed and room. 

The scene represents the middle-aged lady as arranging her 
toilet for bed. Mr. Pickwick's look of holy horror, terror and dis- 
may can be imagined but not portrayed, as he peered upon the un- 
suspecting damsel from the pinched-up bed curtains. 

This scene drew forth shouts of laughter, and by general ac- 
clamation was renewed. 

Scene 4, "The Elopement In High Life," was spirited and most 
pleasing, particularly so to the romantic imaginations of many 
charming lassies, whose hearts were all sympathy for the beautiful 
young lady who thus braved a father's anger and a mother's in- 
dignation for one whom they could not appreciate. The brilliant 
appearance of the bride caused many hearts to palpitate, and even 
the pompous Dombey was heard to utter suspicious commenda- 

After a dance, Mr. and Mrs. Caudle were introduced upon the 
stage in what is called "The Curtain Lectures." The scene was 
so naturally depicted that a few malicious termagants were heard 
to insinuate that experience must have drilled the actors. It ap- 
peared that Mr. Caudle was about to retire to the sweet repose 

94 The Life and Services of 

which ever attends youth, innocence, and beauty, when the keen 
eye of his amiable, angelic wife beheld a tumbler behind the look- 
ing-glass, which she fancied smelt as if it had recently contained a 
spirituous consolation for her husband. She promptly accuses 
him, and displays considerable eloquence upon the subject of tem- 
perance, and portrays the awful probability of his speedy dissolu- 
tion from an intimate association with "blue ruin." The martyr- 
ized Caudle in vain protests that he despises liquor, admitting, at 
the same time, that he had on this occasion taken a few drops 
medicinally, trusting it would neutralize an infernal pain which had 
annoyed him considerably. 

This laughable scene was much enjoyed, even by many who 
were shrewdly suspected of having experience in such matters. 

The next tableau represented Captain Cuttle acting as host to 
Florence Dombey. While offering her toast from his hook, he 
consoles her with a solemn assurance that their dear "Wall'r" is 
"drownded." The lovely expression of Florence, the hard features 
of the sea philosopher Cuttle, and the frank and manly countenance 
of Walter Gay, in the background, was the embodiment of Dick- 
ens's admirable description of this scene. 

A repetition was called for, and when the curtain again arose 
there was displayed the tender meeting between Walter and Flor- 
ence, Captain Cuttle's boisterous delight showering blessings upon 
their heads and bequeathing to them, their heirs and assigns in fee 
simple, the remarkable silver watch, sugar-tongs and spoons. 

I must not forget to mention that Mr. Shammas O'Brien 
O'Cowan favored the audience with an admirably executed Milesian 

The Gypsy scene was rural and spirited, representing the Queen 
of Gypsies telling the fortune of a fascinating young lady. The 
beauty of the Gypsy queen was the subject of general encomium 
and this picture considered one of the best. 

Shortly after was represented Sam'l Weller and the pretty 
house-maid shaking the carpet rug. Sam proved himself a regu- 
lar carpet knight. 

After a merry dance, one of the most beautiful and classic pic- 
tures was presented in "The Artist's Studio." 

The last scene of the brilliant tableaux was "The Gold Diggers." 

After this, the audience retired to the spacious saloon, to enjoy 
the generous repast prepared for them — the luscious fruits of the 
season, the sparkling Epernay, etc. 

At 12.30 Lord Orton announced the closing scene of the evening, 
when all the characters of the tableaux in their different costumes 

John Newland Maffitt 95 

entered with spirit into the giddy mazes of the reel. Here was 
Dombey gracefully bending to the Pipchin. The galvanic little 
Nipper fed with sweet peaches the hungry Calif ornian, who 
thirsted so much for this little lass that Mr. Caudle considered 
many of his remarks excessively dry. Captain Cuttle called upon 
Mrs. Caudle to "stand by" when she hooked in with the old "sea 
horse," to the evident distress of Mrs. McStinger. The beautiful 
Lucy Ashton danced with Ravens wood, and the dear little house- 
maid danced merrily, and the Artist only lived for Catena. Thus 
mingled together the joyous party, inspired by the strains from 
Herr Von Robinson's matchless violin, and danced with an enthu- 
siasm that I have never seen equaled. 

But as all things in this mundane life must have an end, how- 
ever reluctantly we approach it, this happy assemblage obeyed the 
ordinary course of events, and at half-past one in the morning took 
their leave of the liberal host, who had furnished them this delicious 
repast for both mind and body. 

My candle is burning low and I will therefore close with the 
promise, if you desire it, of furnishing you with an account of the 

"Fancy Ball" which comes off on the . It will undoubtedly 

be a racy affair. I cannot close without expressing my surprise 
that a company has not been formed to erect a hotel at this most 
healthy and delightful resort. It is time that the South should 
be true to her own interests, even in matters of this kind. Had 
the amount now spent at the North by citizens of our own and the 
neighboring State of South Carolina been expended at home in 
equally as healthy a place, it would be productive of a vast amount 
of benefit to a class of people that the wealthy are by every patriotic 
sentiment bound to succor. 



Report of Professor Bache for year 1852 — Hydrographic work of Lieu- 
tenant Commanding Maffitt for year on the coast of Virginia, North 
and South Carolina and Georgia. 

I give the following extract from report of Professor Bache 
for the year ending November, 1852 : 

Section IV. — From Cape Henry to Cape Fear, including part of 
Virginia and North Carolina. (Sketch D.) 

Hydrography. — The hydrography in this section has been con- 
tinued by two parties during part of the season. Lieut. Comdg. 
J. N. Maffitt, U. S. Navy, assistant in the Coast Survey, in com- 
mand of the schooner Gallatin, has executed the soundings of the 
bar of the Cape Fear River, commencing at the most southern point 
of Cape Fear, extending at a distance of from two and a half to 
three and a half miles from shore to the northward and westward, 
including the main bar, middle ground, and western bar, the river 
up to New inlet, that bar and the Sheep's Head ledge. (See 
Sketch D, Nos. 3 and 4.) 

In the execution of this work 25,688 soundings were made, 
18,010 angles measured, and 389 miles of soundings run ; thirty- 
five specimens of bottoms were preserved, and fifteen observations 
of currents made. After this work was completed, Lieutenant 
Commanding Maffitt proceeded to make a hydrographic recon- 
naissance of New River bars (see Sketch D, No. 4), and of the 
river above the obstructions. In making this reconnaissance, 5,870 
soundings were made, 481 angles measured, and fifty miles of 

soundings run. 

* ****** 

Section V. — From Cape Fear to the St. Mary's River, including 
the coast of the States of South Carolina and Georgia. ( Sketch E.) 

Hydrography. — Two parties have been engaged in hydrography 
in this section during a part of the season ; one under the command 
of Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. Navy, assistant in the Coast 
Survey, employed in the early part of the season in supplementary 
work in Charleston Harbor, having proceeded to Savannah, and 

John Newland Maffitt 97 

extended the hydrographic survey of that river from Fort Pulaski 
to Union Creek, 14 miles above the city, and as far as the shore line 
had been determined by the topographical party. ( See Sketch E, 
No. 2.) This survey was executed under the unfavorable circum- 
stances of a season which was remarkably severe on all parts of the 
coast. Great care and attention were bestowed upon it in order to 
furnish the most accurate and reliable information in relation to 
the river. Current and tidal observations at numerous points were 
carefully taken. The work in this river completed, Lieutenant 
Commanding Maffitt sailed for New York on the 7th of June, and 
there executed his instructions in reference to an exchange of the 
U. S. brig Washington and the U. S. Revenue schooner Crazvford, 
leaving his own vessel, the schooner Gallatin, in charge of Lieut. 
George H. Preble, U. S. Navy, assistant in the Coast Survey, who 
was engaged in hydrography in Section I. On the 3d of July, the 
exchange of vessels having been made, Lieutenant Commanding 
Maffitt sailed with the schooner Crazvford for Charleston, and arrived 
there on the 9th, when he immediately commenced the re-survey 
of the North, Main and Sullivan's Island channels (see Sketch E, 
No. 2) for the purpose of ascertaining the changes produced by 
storms, etc., and of making borings on the bar, which he succeeded 
in sinking to the depth of fifteen and fifteen and a half feet ; speci- 
mens of every foot of which have been preserved with specimens of 
water bottled at every hour of flood and ebb tides. 

The work of this party in the harbor of Charleston and Savan- 
nah River is exhibited by the following : 

Rattlesnake Shoal and Supplementary Work, Charleston. 

Number of angles measured 776 

Number of soundings taken 10,201 

Number of miles of soundings run 271 

Number of current observations made 56 

Number of specimens of bottom taken 16 

Savannah River. 

Number of angles observed 1,105 

Number of soundings made 24,562 

Number of miles of soundings run 393 

Number of current observations 18 

The office work performed by this party has been copying all the 
notes of the season's work ; plotting current diagrams ; two charts 

98 The Life and Services of 

of Charleston Harbor for the Commission, on a scale of 1-10,000: 
one section of Charleston bar, on a scale of 1-5,000; thirty-four 
miles of Savannah river — twenty miles on a scale of 1-5,000 and 
fourteen miles on a scale of 1-10,000. 

I cannot in justice omit the statement that the labors of this 
party have, in amount, as compared with means, in constancy, and 
in success, exceeded any which have yet come under my observa- 
tion in the progress of the survey. 

* * * * * * * 

Views. — In June, Lieut. A. A. Gibson, U. S. Army, assistant in 
the Coast Survey, proceeded to Charleston, and took two views of 
that harbor for the chart, from positions selected in consultation 
with Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt. 

Under the immediate direction of Lieutenant Commanding Maf- 
fitt, an examination into the necessity for beacon or range ligiits in 
Georgetown Harbor, South Carolina, as required by the Light - 
House Board, was made by Passed-Midshipman John P. Jones, 
U. S. Navy. My report transmitting that of Mr. Jones is given in 
the Appendix, No. 45. 



Second marriage and return to Smithville, N. C. — Interesting report of 
work of Lieutenants Commanding Maffitt and Craven in hydrography 
of Gulf Stream — Compliment of zeal and perseverance of Acting 
Master J. Pembroke Jones — Changes noticed on Cape Fear bar by 
Maffitt — His work on hydrography on coast of South Carolina and 

The Wilmington Herald of August 18, 1852, contained the 
following notice : 


In Charleston, on Tuesday, August 3, 1852, at St. Paul's Church, 
by Rev. Dr. Hunckell, Lieut. John N. Maffitt, of United States 
Navy, to Mrs. Caroline Laurens Read. 

This lady was the widow of the late Lieut. James W. Read 
and the mother of three children, Mary Withers Read, Laurens 
Read, Caroline Read. Her portrait is that of a very lovely 
woman, and she proved a fond motv^r to Eugene and Florie 
Maffitt. Lieutenant Maffitt, after a short bridal trip, brought 
his bride to Smithville, where they lived in a house in the 
Garrison grounds. During their bridal trip the youngest of 
Mrs. Maffitt's children, Caroline, was accidentally burned to 
death, while under the care of Mrs. Hybart, at Ellerslie, near 
Fayetteville. The children were all at play in the yard, and 
in their play Carrie ran too near a fire, which had been lighted 
under a pot of boiling water, and her dress caught fire. 
Everything was done to extinguish the flames, but the poor 
little one had no doubt breathed the flames and soon died. 
This was a terrible distress to all, especially to the agonized 
mother, and so tender was the sympathy of Lieutenant Maffitt 
for his suffering wife, that in all their changes of residence 
to Virginia and Washington City, the little casket containing 
the body of the child was removed and re-interred, until their 

100 The Life and Services of 

final resting place in a cemetery in Washington City. Two 
children were the result of this union. John Laurens, born 
at Smithville in 1853, and Colden Rhind, born in their home 
on the James River, Virginia. 

Returning to the record of the services of Lieutenant 
Maffitt during the years following, we come to the following 
report of Superintendent A. D. Bache showing progress of the 
work during the year ending November 1, 1853. 

* * * One of the most interesting hydrographic results ever 
obtained in the survey and which opens a rich field of investiga- 
tion, and has most important theoretical and practical bearings, is 
the carrying of soundings for some two hundred miles (with a 
small interval only) southeast from Charleston directly off the 
coast, and the finding of soundings after crossing the Gulf Stream 
from St. Simon's (coast of Georgia), St. Augustine, and Cape 
Canaveral (Florida). The character of the bottom which this 
work reveals is still more interesting — ranges of mountains and 
hills, with a general trend resembling that of the coast, and with 
heights and bases like those above the water in the far interior. 
The relation of the form of the bottom of the ocean, and especially 
that of these sections, to the peculiar features heretofore discovered 
in the Gulf Stream, is well determined by the observations of the year, 
particularly to those curious divisions of the warm water of the 
Gulf Stream by intrusive cold water, confirmed by so many observa- 
tions, and now traced as far south as St. Augustine, in Florida. 
The discovery of the soundings on the other side of the Gulf 
Stream was made independently, and within three days of each 
other (June 7 and June 10) by the parties of Lieuts. Comdg J. N. 
Maffitt and T. A. Craven, U. S. N., the one sounding across the 
Gulf Stream from Charleston, the other from Cape Canaveral. On 
the Charleston section, Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt struck 
soundings in 300 fathoms, then at 11 miles in 600, and again at 
12 miles in 370 fathoms. The first and second of these sound- 
ings represent a mountain 18 feet in height and 11 miles in base on 
the off shore, and very steep on the shore side. The development 
of this subject as far as it is appropriate to this report belongs to 
another part of it ; but I may here refer to the profile of the bottom 
of the sea there given (Sketch Gulf Stream, No. 2), as showing 
the relations of the configuration to that of the land. Lieutenant 

John Newland Maffitt 101 

Commanding Craven, in a distance of a mile and a quarter, passed 
from a sounding of 460 to 1060 fathoms across the Stream from 
Cape Canaveral. A glance at the diagram just mentioned will 
show the connection between the intrusive cold water first discov- 
ered by Lieut. Comdg. G. M. Bache on the sections from Sandy 
Hook, Cape Henlopen, and Cape Henry, in 1846, and the figure of 
the bottom, in reference to which further remarks will be made, as 
illustrated by diagrams of Lieutenant Commanding Craven's work. 
The existence of "ripples" apparently connected with the irregu- 
larities of the bottom were noticed by Lieutenant Commanding 

The observations of this season clearly establish the existence of 
the polar current below the Gulf Stream, and its proximity to the 
shore where the depth permits, even where the surface water may 
be quite warm. They further render it very probable that there 
are counter currents corresponding to the cold streaks in the Gulf 
Stream, which, if established, must be useful in navigation. It 
can hardly be doubted that this cold water off our Southern coast 
may be rendered practically useful by the ingenuity of our country- 
men. The bottom of the sea 14 miles E.N.E., from Cape Florida, 
550 fathoms in depth, was in June last at the temperature of 40° 
Fahrenheit, while the air was 81 ° Fahrenheit. A temperature of 
38° (only six degrees above the freezing point of fresh water) was 
found at 1050 fathoms in depth, about 8 miles east of Cape 
Canaveral. The mean temperature of the air at St. Augustine for 
the year is 69.9 Fahrenheit, and for the three winter months 
57.5 . The importance of the facts above stated, in reference to 
the natural history of the ocean in these regions, is very great, but 
of course requires to be studied in connection with other physical 
data. It has also a bearing upon the important problems of the 
tides of the coast. The exploration of the Gulf Stream will be 
steadily prosecuted to its close, the different problems being taken 
up in turn, or in connection, as may be found practicable. Too 
much credit cannot be given to the officers who have by their 
assiduity and ability developed so far the problems of the tempera- 
tures, not only at the surface but to the greatest depths, from the 
section across the Stream from Cape Cod to that of Cape Canaveral. 
The limits of the Gulf Stream as now known to us are traced on 
the map ordered by Congress, showing the progress of the several 
operations of the Coast Survey and in the sketch accompanying 
my report. (Sketch Gulf Stream, No. 1.) 

102 The Life and Services of 

The general plan of explorations of the Gulf Stream, laid down 
in 1845, was to observe the phenomena in sections perpendicular to 
its axis from well-determined points on the coast. 

Lieutenant Commanding- Maffitt, after closing his work at 
Georgetown, South Carolina, was directed to run three sections, 
respectively, from Charleston, Cape Fear, and Cape Hatteras. 
In each section the number of positions was to depend upon the 
more or less rapid changes met with, and the temperatures were to 
be observed at the surface at five, ten, twenty, thirty, fifty, seventy, 
one hundred, one hundred and fifty, two hundred, three, four, five 
and six hundred fathoms, with deeper casts in some cases to reach 
far into the cold polar current shown to underlie the stream. The 
Hatteras section having been made in 1848, the new work was con- 
nected with the former by retracing this section, taking the 
former positions as nearly as they could be reached. The 
Charleston section was to be run by the same two parties, Lieu- 
tenants Commanding Maffitt and Craven, and it was expected that 
the positions occupied by the first passing over the section could 
be communicated to the other in time to join the two sets of ob- 
servations at nearly the same points 

Great credit is due to both parties, whose chiefs I have already 
named, for the manner in which the work was executed The diffi- 
culties caused by the use of a sailing vessel (the Crawford) were 
entirely overcome by the zeal and perseverance of the officer in 
immediate charge, Acting Master J. P. Jones.* The Crawford 
began the Charleston section on the 2d of June and finished it on 
the nth, making sixteen positions, the farthest of which was 207 
miles from Charleston light. (See Sketch Gulf Stream, Nos. 1 
and 2.) 

The Crawford ran the Cape Hatteras section between the 12th 
and 16th of July (both inclusive), and the Cape Fear between the 
19th and 26th, making in both together twenty-six positions. 

On the Charleston section bottom was carried from 10 fathoms 
in position A (see Sketch Gulf Stream, No. 2), 38 nautical miles 
southeast from Charleston light, to 100 fathoms in position I, 65 
miles from the light. The bottom was not reached in position II 
at 500 fathoms, nor at III in 600 fathoms. In position V, 97 miles 
from Charleston light, after crossing the warmest water of the 
Gulf Stream bottom was struck in 300 fathoms, on the 7th of June, 
at 8 p. m., and was kept at various depths from 500 to 370 fathoms 

*Later, Capt. J. Pembroke Jones, C. S. Navy, the life-long friend of 
Captain Maffitt. 

John Newland Maffitt 103 

to position X, 207 miles from the coast. The details are shown 
on diagram Gulf Stream, No. 2. The bottom was brought up in 
every case, and is preserved in the office. 

* * * On the sections from Cape Fear and Cape Hatteras, 
after leaving the shoals near the shore, the depth increases very 

^ * * :|: :J: ;j< * 

Hydrography. — A resurvey of the Cape Fear bars, to ascertain 
the changes which had taken place since the survey of the previous 
year, was made soon after the date of his last report by Lieut. 
Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. Navy, assistant in the Coast Survey. 
After this the survey was extended up the river to the junction of 
the Brunswick River with the Cape Fear and the northwest branch 
to the bridge above Wilmington. This was completed in January, 
as will be seen by the following extract from the report of Lieu- 
tenant Commanding Maffitt, which also notes the operations con- 
nected with it, and the statistics of its execution. 

"A series of current observations have been made in connection 
with the soundings, which will enable me to project a complete 
current chart. Tidal observations were made at Smithville, Orton 
light, and at Wilmington. On the 14th, 15th and 16th of January 
continuous hourly observations were noted without interruption 
at Smithville, Orton light, Campbell Island light, Upper West 
jetty, and at Point Peter, opposite Wilmington. The watches 
were compared twice daily, as the morning and evening steamers 
passed each station. For this facility as well as continuous 
courtesy, the Coast Survey is indebted to General McRae, the 
president of the Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad. 

"No. of miles of soundings run 670 

No. of soundings 37.858 

No. of angles observed 5-3 2 ° 

No. of specimens 49 

No. of current observations 44" 

In regard to the changes of the bar, which are very remarkable, 
Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt remarks as follows : 

"By the 8th of December I had accomplished the work, as well 
as boring for specimens at different positions on the main bar and 
at the mouth of New Inlet. On the main bar I succeeded in obtain- 
ing specimens to the depth of 13 feet, and to the depth of 10 feet 
at New Inlet. These specimens were immediately labeled and 
forwarded to the Coast Survey Office at Washington. The resur- 

104 The Life and Services of 

vey of the Cape Fear bar exhibits very marked changes, which are 
characteristic of all sand-bars. I have observed and had it also 
attested by the pilots, that a strong northeasterly wind has the effect 
of deteriorating New Inlet bar in depth, and the main and western 
bars are thereby improved ; vice versa, a continuance of southerly 
or easterly winds shoals the main or western bars, and improves 
the New Inlet. The migratory character of the various shoals in 
the channel way over these bars renders it expedient for strangers 
always to employ a pilot, as the chart sailing directions cannot 
under these circumstances be relied upon for any specific length of 
time. A comparison of the original chart with the resurvey will 
exhibit very clearly the character which I have given of the chan- 
nels at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. A general diminution 
is also obvious in the short space of twelve months, which, when 
considered with the great changes as made manifest in other sur- 
veys, is a matter of serious consideration for those interested in the 
commercial prosperity of Wilmington. On the completion of this 
work, on the 12th of February, the party proceeded under instruc- 
tions to execute the hydrography of Georgetown Harbor and 
Winyaw Bay, South Carolina, which is noticed under the head of 
Section V." 

Section V. — From Cape Fear to the St. Mary's River, including 
the coast of the States of South Carolina and Georgia. 

Hydrography. — The hydrographic survey of Georgetown en- 
trance and Winyaw Bay, South Carolina (see Sketch E, No. 1), in 
connection with the other operations in that section, noticed above, 
was made by the party of Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt, U. S. 
Navy, assistant in the Coast Survey. This was commenced on the 
14th of February and completed on the 6th of May, when the 
Crawford, the vessel used by the party, was dispatched in the Gulf 
Stream explorations, which had been previously noticed. I quote 
extracts from the report of Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt upon 
the execution of the Georgetown work, giving statistics, etc. : 

"On the 12th of February I sailed for Georgetown, South Caro- 
lina, and arrived on the 14th. As soon as the signals could be 
erected, the survey of the bar and Winyaw Bay was commenced 
and vigorously prosecuted to its completion on the 6th of May. 
The bar of Georgetown, like the Southern bars in general, is sub- 
ject to constant changes ; the absence of previous reliable surveys 
prevents a comparison by which the changing character of the bar 
can be judged. Two new channel ways have recently come into 
use, both of which will be fully delineated by the Coast Survey ; 
and with the assistance of buoys and landmarks, can no doubt be 

John Newland Maffitt 105 

navigated with greater facility than the old channel. The evidence 
of all the pilots goes to prove that Mother Norton Shoal is rapidly 
increasing in a southeasterly direction, which naturally presses the 
last quarter of the ebb tide more to the eastward, with the tendency, 
it is presumed, to improve the northeast or new channel. I am 
informed by the residents on North Island that Light-House Point 
is rapidly wearing away. The pilots also assert that the flat about 
the northwest buoy is shoaling; and, also, that the Great dry 
breaker has increased vastly in area for the last ten years. Positive 
evidence of this, as well as of the change in the main channel, is 
clearly demonstrated by my finding and determining the position 
of the two old range-beacons which twenty years ago marked out 
the channel. That range now strikes across the middle of the 
Great dry breaker, where the level of the sand at low tide is, at 
present, 20 inches above the surface of the water. The increase of 
the Great dry breaker has forced the main channel to the westward, 
to the destruction of an inner channel called the Goose Neck chan- 
nel. At the steamboat wharf on South Island I established a per- 
manent tide-gauge and also one of the same character at George- 
town. The observations were made by reliable and careful men, 
day and night, and the watches regulated by a meridian mark. An 
iron gauge was driven into the water at the lower end of the bar, 
but the general roughness of the sea prevented the nice comparison 
I had anticipated. Great attention was given to this gauge. A 
full system of current observations was carried out in the bay and 
at important points on the bar. 

"No. of miles of soundings run 598 

No. of angles observed 9,850 

No. of specimens. . 90 

No. of soundings. 68,520 

No. of current observations 16" 

The office work of this party has advanced well in plotting and 
reducing the sheets of this and previous sections. 


Beaufort Harbor — Survey completed — Survey of James River, Va., and 
interesting reports of Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt on the survey 
of Beaufort Harbor, N. C 

The following extracts from the report of Professor A. D. 
Bache, superintendent of the Coast Survey, show the progress 
of the work during the year ending November i, 1854: 

The hydrography of Beaufort Harbor, and its dependencies and 
approaches, has been completed. A reconnaissance of the Wimble 
shoals has been executed. Tidal observations have been made at 
Cape Hatteras, at Cape Lookout and Beaufort entrance, and at 
Bald Head, Cape Fear. A line of levels for connecting the tidal 
stations has been run from Wilmington to Smithville, North Caro- 
lina. Maps and charts have been finished or are in progress of 
Beaufort Harbor, Cape Fear River reconnaissance of Wimble 
shoals, of the Gulf Stream, with diagrams of temperatures on 
different sections ; charts of Albemarle Sound, one sheet of a pre- 
liminary chart of the same sound, Nos. 1 and 2 of Beaufort Har- 
bor, of Wimble shoals reconnaissance of Cape Fear entrance and 
New Inlet (new edition), of the Gulf Stream explorations and the 
diagrams, and co-tidal lines of the Atlantic coast, have been 
engraved during the year or are in progress. 

^c ^c ^ ?j: $z % :fc 

Maffitt's channel has been resurveyed and the important changes 
developed. The hydrography of the entrance to Savannah River 
has been completed. The tidal station in Charleston Harbor has 
been kept up and temporary stations there and at St. Simon's estab- 
lished. A comparative map of Maffitt's channel in 1852 and 1854 
has been made, and one of Winyaw Bay and Georgetown Harbor 
and Savannah River commenced. The preliminary map of 
Charleston Harbor is nearly completed ; North Edisto River, new 
edition, is engraved. 

SfC 5J£ 2|C 3JC 5|I * 3f£ Sfi 

The hydrography of James River, near its entrance, was com- 
menced at the close of his work in Section V, by Lieut. Comdg. 

John Newland Maffitt 107 

J. N. Maffitt, U. S. N., assistant in the Coast Survey, and has been 
carried from the limits of Lieutenant Commanding Almey's work 
up the James River to Warwick River. Special tidal observations 
have been made in connection with the work. * * * Special 
observations at the Bodkin and James River have been made under 
the direction of Lieutenants Commanding Wainwright and Maffitt. 

-■» Sp 2|C ^C 3JJ s|c 5|j 

Hydrography. — Supplementary work at the Cape Fear bars and 
entrance was executed by the party of Lieutenant Commanding 
Maffitt, U. S. N., assistant in the Coast Survey, in the autumn of 
1853, when the sailing vessel which had been used by his party was 
transferred to another, and the steamer Legare was fitted out for 
his use. The repairs required by the steamer proving much greater 
than had been expected, the party was detained in making them until 
the middle of February, when they proceeded to Beaufort for a 
complete survey of that harbor and its approaches. The party 
next proceeded to Charleston Harbor, where they resurveyed Maf- 
fitt's or Sullivan's Island channel, obtaining results of much impor- 
tance, which will be noticed under the head of hydrography in 
Section V. 

An interesting report on Beaufort Harbor by Lieutenant Com- 
manding Maffitt will be found in Appendix No. 14. It shows the 
great value and importance of that harbor, proves that the depth 
has been nearly permanent in all changes of position of the main 
channel from the earliest records ; points out the perfectly protected 
character of its roads, and its facilities for the purposes of a naval 
depot, accessible at high water by "sloops-of-war and second-class 
steamers, while brigs, schooners, and third-class steamers could 
come in at any stage of the tide." There is at present nearly 
sixteen feet of water upon the bar (a sketch of which accompanies 
Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt's report), and the distance across 
it is but 307 yards; the depth rapidly passes to S T A and VA 
fathoms. The average rise and fall of the tide is 4^ feet, so that 
at high water there is 20 feet on the bar. 

The wearing away of Shackleford's Point, at the entrance to 
Beaufort Harbor, is pointed out by Lieutenant Commanding Maf- 
fitt, and its probable consequences clearly shown. 

The geographical position of Beaufort is favorable, not onlv for 
the purposes of commerce, but as offering protection during north- 
east and eastwardly storms. Cape Lookout affords a "natural 
breakwater in gales from those points, with excellent and well 
protected anchorage under the land, the light-house bearing east. 

108 The Life and Services of 

In the hydrography of Beaufort approaches, entrance, and har- 
bor, 785 miles of soundings were run, 2,755 angles observed for 
positions of soundings, 37,260 casts of the lead made, 34 specimens 
of the bottom procured, 16 current stations occupied. 

As office work, the party has completed two sheets of Beaufort 
entrance and approaches, and others of Beaufort Harbor, scale 
1-10,000, besides current diagrams and tables. 

% % ;fc >(: ^ :js H' 

My attention was called to the probability that changes had 
occurred in the channel near Sullivan's Island, known as Maffitt's 
channel, and I accordingly directed Lieutenant Commanding Maf- 
fitt to make the re-examination of this channel and its approaches. 
Very remarkable changes were developed by the re-survey, tending 
-to render the channel much more available even than when recom- 
mended for improvement in 1852. A chart exhibiting those 
changes accompanies this report (Sketch E, No. 4). By request 
of the Engineer Department, I served with Lieutenant Davis, 
U. S. N., and Capt. J. F. Gilmer, U. S. Corps of Engineers, on a 
commission to re-examine the plans of improvement which had 
previously been suggested, and visited Charleston for that purpose 
in the latter part of the month of June, returning to Wilmington, 
North Carolina, on the completion of the examination and report 
of the commission. The services rendered by Lieutenant Com- 
manding Maffitt and the officers of his party, then in Charleston 
Harbor, in facilitating the work of the commission, and in making 
current and other observations, were very valuable. To the effi- 
ciency of his arrangements and knowledge of localities and changes 
they owed, in a considerable degree, the promptness with which 
they were able to arrive at their conclusions. 

Maffitt's channel itself (see Sketch D) was found to have moved 
northward while retaining its general direction, to have diminished 
in width and slightly increased in depth. The bulkhead closing 
the west end of it near Bowman's jetty had much diminished in 
width and the average depth on the bulkhead had increased nearly 
two feet. 

A drawing has been made during the year of the re-survev of 
Maffitt's channel, and a comparative map of this and former sur- 
veys prepared ; these have been engraved. The drawing of the 
chart of Georgetown Harbor and of Tybee entrance and Savannah 
River has been commenced. The engraving of the preliminary 
chart of Charleston Harbor has been nearly completed, and the 

John Newland Maffitt 109 

drawing of the final chart will soon be commenced. The sketches 
of progress in this section have been remodeled and engraved. 

Appendix No. 14. 

Report of Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. N., assistant in the 
Coast Survey, on Bean fort Harbor, North Carolina, communi- 
cated by request to the honorable Secretary of the Navy, 
June 12, 1854: 

The entrance to the harbor of Beaufort, North Carolina, is seven 
miles W.N.W. from Cape Lookout light-house, and easy of access 
in all winds except those from the west and northwest. The bar 
has at present fifteen and a half feet at mean low water. 

The anchorage from abreast of Fort Macon Wharf to a point a 
mile and three-quarters westward, is safe, and completely protected 
from all winds. 

The direction of the channel has changed materially from time 
to time. According to an old chart (no authority), it was S.S.W., 
with sixteen feet. 

In 1820, according to Kearney it was N. and S. with 13 feet. 

In 1830, according to Army, it was N. and S. with 18 feet. 

In 1839, according to Lieut. Glynn, it was S. 21 ° 30' E.with 15 feet springtide. 

In 1850, according to Coast Survey, it was S. 52° 15' E. with 17 feet m. 1. w. 

In 1854, according to Coast Survey, it was S. 52° 15' E. with 151^ m. 1. w. 

The bar of Beaufort is composed of coarse and fine marine sand, 
mixed with dead shells ; and like all Southern sand-bars, it is sub- 
ject to the extraneous influences of sea and current. During the 
last thirty years, this bar has varied slightly in depth, but materially 
in direction. From the best evidence which could be obtained — 
both positive and traditionary — I have concluded that the normal 
depth upon the bar at mean low water is 16 feet. This deduction 
is based upon the following evidence : 

Wimble's chart, published in 1737 (117 years ago), gives 18 feet 
as the depth on the bar at low tide. 

It is also stated, on good authority, that Lawson's chart, pub- 
lished in 1718, coincides with Wimble's in the depth at low water. 

In evidence of the continued excellent depth of water on this bar, 
it may not be out of place to state that in the year 1760 the Colonial 
legislature granted to a company a charter authorizing the connec- 
tion of Beaufort with the Neuse River by means of a ship-canal ; 

110 The Life and Services of 

and as Ocracoke bar (the natural outlet to the Neuse River) had 
then 12 feet at low water, the inference is that the channel had not 
deviated in depth since the survey of Wimble. 

It is a well-attested fact that, during the War of the Revolution, 
an English cruiser, drawing 22 feet, entered the harbor of Beau- 
fort and was conducted out again by a resident pilot, who stated 
that "she crossed the bar with an ordinary high tide, but struck 
lightly several times." 

In the years 181 1, 1813, and 181 5, serious changes, as to depth 
and direction, occurred upon this bar, which were attributed to the 
heavy southwest gales of those years — that of 181 5 being one of 
the most violent and disastrous ever known upon the coast. 
Shackleford's Point was much affected by the sea, and the site of 
old Fort Hampton entirely destroyed. The bar was injured so that 
but 12 feet could be brought over it at low water. 

After the year 181 5 the channel-way gradually changed its direc- 
tion more to the southward ; the depth of water also steadily in- 
creased until 1830, when a depth of 18 feet at low water was re- 
ported by officers of the army. 

In the year 1838 the ship Napoleon, bound for Liverpool with 
naval stores, crossed the bar with a draught of 17^2 feet. In 1839 
the bar was surveyed by the order of the Hon. J. K. Paulding, 
Secretary of the Navy, and "15 feet of water at the lowest observed 
tides" reported by Lieutenant Glynn, the officer in charge of the 

In 1850 the bar was sounded under my direction, and 17 feet 
found upon it at low water. My present survey gives 15^ feet at 
mean low water. The differences noticed in the depth are attribu- 
table to local causes of a transient character, not permanently affect- 
ing the general capacity of the bar. 

Point Macon has been sufficiently protected from the encroach- 
ments of the sea by a system of jetties, and Shackleford's Point 
requires a like expedient, as in every gale from the southward, por- 
tions of it are washed away. The Coast Survey shore lines of 
185 1 and 1854 differ materially, showing a large decrease of the 
point, the effect of which is undoubtedly injurious, not only upon 
the direction of the channel, but also as affecting the depth of water 
on the bar. If this salient point, which governs so materially the 
ebb and flood, was protected from abrasion by the sea, the channel 
would probably be more fixed in its character. 

A marked evidence of the value of this harbor is derived from 
information furnished by the Treasury Department, to the effect 
that though in 1810 the gross revenue accruing to the Government 

John Newland Maffitt 111 

through the custom-house at Beaufort was but $522, in 1813 it sud- 
denly increased to $105,214, and throughout the war it continued 
the like large returns to the Treasury. 

The o-eographical position of Beaufort is favorable, not only for 
purposes of commerce, but as affording protection during north- 
east and eastwardly storms. Cape Lookout affords a natural 
breakwater in gales from those points, with excellent and well- 
protected anchorage under the land, the light-house board bear- 
ing east. 

The Harbor. — The harbor of Beaufort may be regarded as 
extending from Macon Point westward to the entrance of Bogue 
Sound abreast of Shepherd's Point. It is bounded on the south 
by marsh lands belonging to the Fort Macon property and the 
Literary Society of the State ; on the north by sand banks, bare at 
low water, and marsh land, also the property of the Literary Soci- 
ety. The average width of the harbor is 300 yards, exclusive of 
the mouth of Newport River, which also affords excellent anchor- 
age as far as the flats. The channel here is 280 yards wide. 

The marsh land traversed by Fishing Creek bordering upon the 
Government property has deep water along its margin, on which 
wharves could be built at small expense. There are several good 
localities adjacent to Shepherd's Point for wharves, which would 
not involve extraordinary outlay. 

In the event of the contemplated railroad terminating at this 
port, all the marsh lands mentioned must become important for the 
necessities of commerce. My opinion strongly inclines to their 
selection for Government purposes, as the water is bold from Fish- 
ing Creek westward, and the sand hills by the seashore offer the 
most healthy sites for dwelling-houses. This selection is based 
upon the presumption that the Government designs to establish 
at this port only a depot for the collection of naval stores and fuel 
for the use of the second-class steamers, which would alwavs find 
this a convenient harbor for a re-supply of coal when cruising off 
the coast. The actual bar is but 307 yards wide, passing rapidly 
from 314 to 2^/2 fathoms (over 15^ feet at mean low water). 

The normal depth of water on the bar I have assumed as 16 feet 
at mean low water, which at high water will allow sloops-of-war 
and second-class steamers to enter without difficulty, while brigs, 
schooners, and third-class steamers could come in at any stage of 
the tide. 

Harbors with such facilities, on this part of the coast, are too 
valuable to be neglected by the Government. Many of our coast- 
ing schooners use this port constantly as a harbor of refuge, and 

112 The Life and Services of 

the establishment of light and buoys by the General Government, 
to afford additional facilities for ingress and egress, would be fully 
warranted by the importance of this coasting trade. On several 
occasions during the month of March, 1854, I have seen from 
seventeen to twenty vessels with valuable cargoes anchored in this 
port for safety from the gales. 

The establishment of a railroad depot at this place, as an outlet 
for the mineral wealth and agricultural resources of the interior 
and western parts of the State, would no doubt cause the port to 
grow rapidly in commercial importance. 

The facilities are great for inland navigation — with Pamlico by 
means of Core Sound, and also with the rich county of Onslow by 
the way of Bogue Sound, the navigation of which could be 
improved without very great expenditure of means. Naval stores 
in abundance could be shipped here ; coal and copper obtained by 
railroad from Chatham County, live-oak from Onslow, and white- 
oak and other timber from the adjacent country. It is certain that 
encouragement and increased facilities would very soon make this 
an important Southern port. The salubrity of the place is such as 
to render it a rendezvous during the summer months. 

I incline strongly to the opinion that jetties would save Point 
Shackleford, and if extended (as the land formed) would have a 
tendency to improve the depth of water on the bar. This Point, 
well secured or prolonged, would change the current and no doubt 
the bar-channel, more to the southward or at right angles to the 
coast. The result would be to force the bar promptly seaward 
into deep water instead of following the coast-in-shoal. 

Where artificial means are to be resorted to, with reference to 
sand-bar improvements, I am impressed with the conviction that 
if the current can be governed, means should be applied to force 
the bar seaward into deep water at right angles to the coast. 
Charleston main ship-channel loses all benefit of the ebb current 
by its general diffusion before it reaches the desired point. If all 
the ebb could be forced out east that bar would have twice its pres- 
ent capacity. 

This opinion is, of course, based upon the theory that the more 
contracted the outlet for a body of water, the greater will be the 
velocity of the current or scouring influence by which the bar is 
deepened, or at least kept at its uniform depth. 

The channels connecting Beaufort and Lenoxville with the main 
harbor are intricate ; that leading into the former has but 6 feet at 
mean low water. The channel around Shackleford's Point, lead- 
ing up to the latter, has 1 1 feet at mean low water. It is narrow, 

John Newland Maffitt 113 

and subject to constant changes. Passing Shepherd's Point the 
channel has 4 fathoms. 

Eleven feet, at mean low water, can be carried up to Gallant 
Point ; 10 feet, at mean low water, abreast of Carolina City. 

The channel by Bird Island, though more permanent, is tortuous, 
and affords but 9 feet at low water. 

Respectfully yours, 

J. N. Maffitt, U. S. N., 
Assistant in U. S. Coast Survey. 
Prof. A. D. Bache, 

Superintendent of Coast Survey. 


Interesting report on discoveries in survey of Gulf Stream by Lieutenants 
Commanding Maffitt and Craven, 1855 — Destiny of Cape Fear country, 
its resources and enterprises, dependent in great degree on facility of 
entrance to its river — Survey on coasts of South Carolina and Georgia 
— Hurricane of 1854 — Officers of party of Lieutenant Commanding 
Maffitt, Acting Masters S. B. Luce, Hunter Davidson and others — 
Work of years 1856 and 1857 — Loss to the Coast Survey of services of 
four of its chiefs — Final work and detachment of Lieutenant Com- 
manding Maffitt — Ordered to command U. S. brig Dolphin. 

The following is from Prof. A. D. Bache's report of the 
progress of the work of the Coast Survey for the year ending 
October 23, 1855 : 

The following up of the range of hills beyond the Gulf Stream 
by Lieutenant Commanding Sands first discovered in 1853 (by 
Lieutenants Craven and Maffitt), and extending in the same gen- 
eral direction with the curve of the stream from the Florida chan- 
nel nearly to Cape Lookout, is one of those happy results of com- 
bined perseverance, skill, and intelligence which cannot be too 
highly praised. Using the Coast Survey chart of the Gulf Stream 
as a basis, the accomplished hydrographer who made this explora- 
tion seems to have been at no loss to place his sounding line just 
where the bottom would be reached at about the expected depth. 
I have given notice of these observations in some detail under the 
head of "Gulf Stream," between Sections III and TV of this report. 

The existence at the bottom of the ocean beneath the Gulf 
Stream, from the latitude of 38° to Cape Florida, of cold water, 
much colder than belongs to the latitude, has been proved by direct 
observation in different years. 

The destiny of the Cape Fear country, with all its resources and 
enterprises, hangs in a great degree upon the facility of entrance to 
this admirable river. Surveys can and will show the progress of 
changes there, and are the only means by which improvement can 
be guided. The officer who, regardless of his own personal com- 
fort, has volunteered while passing from one section of the survey 
to another, to take up the difficult work of re-examining the Cape 

John Newland Maffitt 115 

Fear entrances, deserves the gratitude of all who have an interest 
in the resources and share in the enterprises to which I have 
alluded. The results as given under the head of hydrography of 
Section IV will be found of decided interest. 

The favorable changes in the main ship-channel into Charleston 
Harbor and in the bulkhead which closes Maffitt's channel toward 
the harbor have been chronicled by the same officer (Appendix 
No. 15), whose name has been given to the channel by the citizens 
of Charleston in token of their appreciation of his services in regard 
to it. That nature is at this time struggling to open a channel here, 
and requiring only assistance from art, is quite certain, and now 
is the time, while the play of forces is tending to do the work, to 
give the necessary help to confirm the beneficial action. Circum- 
stances may change. 

sfe sfe % % :Je 3$c sf: 

Section III. — From Cape Ffenlopen to Cape Henry, including 
the coast of Delaware, Maryland, and part of Virginia. 

The hydrography of the James River, Virginia, from Deep 
Water Point light-house to a point opposite to Jamestown Island, 
has been executed by the party of Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, 
U. S.Navy, assistant in the Coast Survey. (Sketch C.) This work 
was prosecuted with great energy after the return of the hydro- 
graphic party from the Atlantic coast, south of Charleston, the 
necessary preliminary triangulation of the river being executed 
personally by Lieutenant Maffitt. The shore line was also deter- 
mined by the party throughout an extent of 28 miles embraced in 
the hydrography. The number of angles observed was 1,800, and 
the number determined 277. Work was discontinued at the end of 
August in consequence of sickness on board the schooner Craw- 
ford, employed in the operations. 

The statistics of this survey are : 

Number of miles run soundings 1,081.5 

Whole number of soundings 39,464 

Observations were made at two tidal and at five current stations 
within limits before mentioned. The chart of James River, on scale 
1-20,000 in two parts, has been drawn and sent to the office by 
Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt. 

Section IV. — From Cape Henry to Cape Fear, including part of 
Virginia and North Carolina. (Sketch D.) 

On his way from the coast of South Carolina to the James 
River, Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt examined the channels at 

116 The Life and Services of 

the main entrance to the Cape Fear, and also New Inlet. (See 
Sketch D.) It is known that the shifting sands of the Cape Fear 
and New Inlet bars cause frequent variations in the depth, accord- 
ing to the prevalence of particular winds and their degree of vio- 
lence, so that at different seasons of the year and in different years 
the channels change their comparative depths. When Lieutenant 
Commanding Maffitt made his examination in June, the main ship- 
channel had two feet and three-tenths less water in it than when 
surveyed by him in 1853, while the western channel had become 
the main entrance, having 2 feet more water in it than in October, 
1853. New Inlet bar, in like manner, had shoaled nearly two feet. 

The positions of the new channel beacons at Beaufort, North 
Carolina, were determined by the same party. Sketches of these 
different determinations have been furnished to the office. 

In these detached works there were: 

For the Cape Fear. 

Number of soundings 2,188 

Number of angles 137 

Number of miles of soundings 67 

For Beaufort. 

Number of soundings 459 

Number of angles 46 

Number of miles of soundings 14 

Section V. — From Cape Fear to the St. Mary's River, including 
the coast of the States of South Carolina and Georgia. (Sketch E.) 

I will rapidly pass in review the work done. Charleston Harbor 
and its approaches have been carefully surveyed, the bar sounded 
out twice, and Maffitt's channel several times. These surveys 
were at once made the bases of the proposed improvement of the 
harbor by the city of Charleston and by the United States. A pre- 
liminary chart has been published and the finished map is in prog- 
ress of engraving. Several comparative sketches of Maffitt's 
channel have been published. Tybee entrance and approaches and 
the Savannah River have been surveyed above the city to the head 
of Argyle Island. The maps of these surveys were used by the 
commission, on the improvement of the river. A preliminary 
sketch has been published and the finished map is in progress. 
* * * The hydrography of the ocean coast has been nearly 
completed between Charleston and North Edisto. Two harbors 

John Newland Maffitt 117 

of refuge, Bull's Bay on the north and North Edisto on the south, 
have been surveyed, and charts of them published. The informa- 
tion thus obtained has also induced appropriations for lighting 
them, so as to enable vessels driven either to the eastward or west- 
ward of Charleston to find a refuge either by night or day. Port 
Royal entrance, and the shoal off it, known as Martin's Industry, 
have been examined, and a sketch of the reconnaissance, extending 
to Beaufort Harbor, is in progress. The approaches to Tybee 
entrance — namely, Calibogue Sound on the north, and the opposite 
shore of Savannah River to the south — have been triangulated, and 
the survey of Romerly marshes made complete in reference to the 
cut proposed through them. Winyaw Bay and Georgetown Har- 
bor have been surveyed, and the Roman shoal to the south of it. A 
general reconnaissance has been carried along the coast of the sec- 
tion, including a recent one from the Cape Fear to Charleston, and 
the triangulation and topography have made progress over the 
reconnaissance from the Cape Fear south to Lockwood's Folly. 
A hydrographic reconnaissance of Doboy inlet and of Altamaha 
River to Darien has been made. The triangulation of Cumberland 
Sound is in progress, upon which a hydrographic reconnaissance 
has been based. 

These detached pieces of work embrace more than three-fourths 
of the most important points on the coast, and attention has been 
directed to them in their intrinsic order of importance, or that 
which circumstances gave to them. The preliminary bases upon 
which these surveys rest have been measured by rods duly com- 
pared at the Coast Survey Office, and the work forms part of the 
general coast series, each fragment falling into its appropriate 
place in the whole survey. The tides have been investigated by 
numerous stations along this reach of coast, and the results have 
been worked up and published in tide-tables and in the form of 
co-tidal lines on a chart. The magnetic elements have been deter- 
mined at various points, including the stations of the primary trian- 
gulation and points in the harbors. The latitude and azimuths 
necessary to constitute a geodetic work have been attended to, and 
the differences of longitude, for which the telegraph has afforded 
such admirable means, have been determined for the long reaches 
over which the lines extend. In this way Charleston and Savan- 
nah have been connected with Washington City, and thus with 
the central longitude station of the Coast Survey, and with each 
other. During the past year the survey of this section has made 
even more than usual advance in all its branches. 

118 The Life and Services of 

The hurricane of September, 1854, which rag-eel so fearfully 
along - the coast of South Carolina and Georgia, made no doubt 
many changes in it. The destructive action at Sullivan's Island, 
Charleston Harbor, led to the not unreasonable supposition that 
Maffitt's channel might also have been affected by it. In 1851 
the Moultrie House stood about one hundred and twenty-seven 
yards from high-water mark, and in March, 1855, but thirty-six. 
Such a remarkable change attracted attention immediately after 
the storm, and I directed Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt to make 
as early a re-examination of the channel as practicable. This was 
done in March, 1855, giving the gratifying evidence of an improve- 
ment on the bulkhead of the channel. (See Sketch No. 20.) In 
a recent letter (see Appendix No. 15) on the comparative map, 
showing the results of the different surveys of the channel between 
1851 and 1855, Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt remarks: 

"The chart of 1855 shows a general increase of depth upon the 
bulkhead, and a contraction of 18 yards in the general width of 
the channel. Bowman's jetty had settled about one foot and fifty- 
six hundredths, the result of which has been to increase by 28 min- 
utes, the duration of the flow of ebb-tide over the jetty, with an 
increased velocity of half a knot per hour directly through the chan- 
nel. The benefit of this is, no doubt, made manifest by the general 
increase of water over the bulkhead. The high-water mark along 
the shore of Sullivan's Island is now 320 yards more to the north- 
ward than in 1852. The necessity for small jetties along this shore 
for its general protection, is a subject for consideration." 

Distance in direct line of channel- way from 12-foot curve to 
12-foot curve or breadth of bulkhead : 

1850 2,660 yards. 

1852 3- 200 yards. 

1854 1,100 yards. 

1855 1,000 yards. 

Length of shoals fringing the southern edge of Maffitt's or Sulli- 
van's Island channel : 

Yards long. Yards wide. 

1850 2,600 700 

1852 5.700 260 

1854 700 200 broken and scattered. 

1855 680 200 

John Newland Maffitt 119 

The general increase of depth on bulkhead from 1852 to 1855 is 
4Y 2 feet. 

The above table gives striking evidence in favor of the adapta- 
tion of this channel for improvement. It will be observed that there 
is an improved condition of the channel, from chart to chart, and 
that the scrutiny of five years has, as yet, developed nothing but a 
flattering progression encouraging the laudable enterprise. 

A re-examination of the main ship-channel of Charleston Har- 
bor was made in March, in consequence of alleged changes. Upon 
this subject I give an extract from Lieutenant Commanding Maf- 
fitt's report : 

"A re-examination of the main ship-channel of Charleston bar 
gave evidence of some considerable change since the survey of 
1 85 1. The channel has made to the southward, since that time, 
some forty yards ; and also at the period of this last investigation 
(March 8 and 9, 1855) had deepened in the general channel-way 
about .95, or nearly one foot. 

"I question the continued improvement or present permanency 
of this bettered condition of the main ship-channel. Its position 
in reference to the dredging influence of the tidal-currents of ebb 
and flow is such as to insure a certain normal depth, influenced, at 
times, by heavy gales — some deepening it, and others having the 
reverse influence. The Coast Survey chart probably presents the 
normal depth that will, as a rule, be found in this channel at mean 
low water, as the original soundings of 1849 do not differ mate- 
rially from those of 1850 and 1851." 

At the time of this survey the buoys were found to be placed in 
the best water. 

The survey of Romerly marshes, for the Savannah Chamber of 
Commerce, was made upon an unusually large scale, that it might 
afford data for their discussions in regard to the possibility of im- 
proving the intricate interior navigation now passing through 
them. A copy of the survey has been furnished to the president 
of the Chamber. 

The drawings of the following maps, charts, and sketches have 
been in progress, or have been completed within the year : Winyaw 
Bay and Roman shoals ; comparative chart of Maffitt's channel, 
1852 to 1854; Charleston Harbor and Savannah River; and these 
have likewise been engraved with the exception of the first and 
last. The chart of Winyaw Bay and Georgetown Harbor is now 
in progress in the engraving division. 

Hydrography. — The regular hydrography of this section (Sec- 
tion V) has, as heretofore, been under the charge of Lieut. Comdg. 

120 The Life and Services of 

J. N. Maffitt, U. S. N., assistant in the Coast Survey, having this 
year the services of three sailing vessels, the schooners Crawford 
and Madison, and the tender Bouncer. This party commenced 
work with the re-survey of Maffitt's channel, in Charleston Har- 
bor, apprehensions in regard to its deterioration having been caused 
by the very great changes of shore-line of Sullivan's Island beach, 
near the channel, made by the severe gale of September n, 1854. 
Happily, these fears were groundless, the depth of water on the 
bulkhead closing the channel having actually improved. (See 
Comparative Chart, Sketch No. 20.) 

About the same time Lieutenant Simpson, in the Madison, com- 
menced the outside hydrography from Charleston bar to North 
Edisto (Sketch E), completing the whole within two miles in the 
course of the season, thus furnishing materials for a coast chart 
of the section. The unusually boisterous character of the season 
told much upon the progress of the work. 

After completing the re-examination of Maffitt's Channel, the 
survey of the Romerly marshes (Sketch No. 24) near Tybee 
entrance, Georgia, and their approaches, was made upon the basis 
of Mr. Longfellow's triangulation, and a chart at once furnished 
for the Chamber of Commerce of Savannah. 

Changes having been reported in the depth and position of the 
main ship-channel of Charleston, Lieutenant Commanding Maf- 
fitt next made a re-survey there, with results which will be referred 
to hereafter. 

The last work of the season was a survey of the northern 
approaches to Tybee, and an elaborate hydrographic recon- 
naissance of Martin's Industry shoal, Port Royal bar, Port Royal 
Bay, and Beaufort River, South Carolina, to the city of Beaufort. 
On the 4th of June the work was closed in this section and the 
party transferred to James River (see Hydrography Section III), 
having in the last-mentioned work accomplished one of the most 
difficult pieces of hydrography yet undertaken in the course of the 
survey of the coast. 

In a severe gale on the 23d of April the schooner Bouncer, 
used as a tender by the vessels of this party, was wrecked off Port 
Royal Bay. The vessel was at anchor when the gale came up but 
could not be got under weigh, and both cables parting, she went 
ashore and was dashed to pieces. All hands were happily saved, 
but the property contained in the vessel, public and private, was 
lost or much injured. 

John Newland Maffitt 121 

In passing northward Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt re-ex- 
amined the Cape Fear entrance and New Inlet, and also deter- 
mined the positions of the new beacons at Beaufort, North Caro- 
lina. (See hydrography of Section IV.) 

The statistics of the season's work in this section (Section V) 
are as follows : 

Supplementary Work on Charleston Bar. 

Number of angles observed 410 

Number of soundings made 4,060 

Number of miles of soundings 72 

Off-Shore Work Between Charleston Light and North 


Number of angles observed 672 

Number of soundings 6,698 

Number of miles of soundings 460 

Number of specimens 22 

Number of current observations 8 

Romerly Marshes. 

Number of angles observed 490 

Number of angles of determination 98 

Number of current observations 5 

Number of miles of soundings 209 

Number of miles of shore line 39 

Number of soundings 7,031 

Martin's Industry, Port Royal, and Beaufort River, S. C. 

Number of angles observed 2 A97 

Number of angles of determination 1,084 

Number of soundings 40,106 

Number of miles of soundings 842.5 

Number of specimens 18 • 

Number of current observations 6 

Number of miles of shore line 63 

This work with that off Cape Fear and Beaufort, North Caro- 
lina, and in the James River makes the following remarkable 
aggregate of the year. The officers of the party were Lieutenant 

122 The Life and Services of 

Simpson and Acting Masters Davidson and Luce,* of whose serv- 
ices Lieutenant Commanding- Maffitt makes full acknowledgment 
in his report. 

Recapitulation of work in Sections III, IV, and V, by the party 
of Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt : 

Miles of soundings run 2,746 

Soundings taken 100,006 

Angles observed 7 '374 

Specimens 40 

Current observations 24 

Miles of shore line 130 

Tidal stations 7 

The following charts and sketches of this hydrography have 
been sent to this office : Chart of re-survey of Maffitt 's or Sulli- 
van's Island channel 1-5,000; chart of Romerly marshes 1-5,000; 
sketch of Charleston main ship-channel 1-20,000; that of Martin's 
Industry and Port Royal bar is in preparation. The recent results 
of the survey of Maffitt's channel have been placed on the com- 
parative map (Sketch No. 20), and a new edition of it issued with 
this report. 

Appendix No. 15. 

Letter to the Superintendent from Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, 
U. S. Navy, assistant in the Coast Survey, transmitting his 
comparative chart of Maffitt's channel, Charleston Harbor. 
(Sketch E, No. 3.) 

U. S. Coast Survey Schooner "Crawford." 

September, 1855. 
Dear Sir : In handing to you the chart of my recent re-survey 
of Maffitt's or Sullivan's Island channel, I have made some notes 
in reference to the changes that have become manifest by my 

*Now rear-admiral U. S. Navy, who, in a letter to the writer, under date 
of September 29, 1906, writes : "My experience with your lamented 
husband on the Coast Survey is one of the most agreeable of my career. 
I was very fond of him, as no doubt every one was who sailed with him. 
My recollection of that period is that we had lots of hard work and no end 
of fun ; for Maffitt had the rare art of getting all the work possible out of 
one with the least amount of friction. He was always in a good humor, 
nor do I remember ever having seen him lose his temper even under the 
most trying circumstances." 

John Newland Maffitt 123 

repeated surveys, extending- from 1850 to this date, a period of five 
years, during which time numerous storms have swept the coast, 
the gale of September, 1854, especially, producing changes of the 
most marked and, in many instances, serious character. 

I am happy to state that the surges of the sea, though beating on 
the bar at every available position during the prevalence of "that 
terrific blow, has not closed up, as by many was predicted, this 
channel ; but, on the contrary, a marked change for the better is 
apparent, and the experiment suggested by an anxious desire to 
benefit the commercial prosperity of the noble city of Charleston, 
is urged by the friendly overtures of nature, inviting, instead of 
repelling, the opening of this more desirable passage to the ocean. 

Those who are familiar with the subject of bar improvements 
can fully appreciate the great and various difficulties that are to 
be battled with in such a field of operation. The uninitiated look 
for prompt results, and but too often condemn or intimidate the 
more sanguine, when there is a slight failure either from contracted 
means or inappropriate machinery for the tedious and harassing 

The skepticism of many has induced me to give the whole sub- 
ject matter a careful revisal. While schemes unequivocal in their 
character, for the formation of a new and deeper channel to the 
ocean, are easily arranged, they are so vast by necessitv, that the 
Government exchequer would scarce suffice for such "expensive 

That a necessity exists for attention to the bar of Charleston, no 
one doubts. Suggestions were anxiously called for, and many were 
submitted to the unbiased consideration of the commission called 
by the city to look into this matter. But one plan was adopted, and 
that originating with me was offered with extreme hesitation as 
an experiment that involved but a moderate outlay without the 
possibility of detriment to any existing channel. That the plan is 
still a hopeful one, my previous study of the subject shows. The 
following table bears me out fully in 'the deductions which I drew 
from the record of my surveys. 

The chart of 1855 shows a general increase of depth upon the 
bulkhead, and a contraction of 18 yards in the general width of the 
channel. Bowman's jetty has settled about one foot and fifty-six 
hundredths, the result of which has been to increase by 28 minutes 
the duration of the flow of ebb-tide over the jetty, with an increased 
velocity of half a knot per hour, directly through the channel. The 
benefit of this is, no doubt, made manifest by the increase of water 
over the bulkhead. 

124 The Life and Services of 

The high-water mark along the shore of Sullivan's Island is 
now 320 yards more to the northward than in 1852, and the neces- 
sity for small jetties along the shore for its general protection is a 
subject for consideration. 

Distance in direct line of channel-way from 12-foot curve to 
12-foot curve, or breadth of bulkhead : 

1850 2,660 

1852 3, 2 °° 

1854 1,100 

1855 1,000 

Length of shoal fringing the southern edge of Maffitt's or Sulli- 
van's Island channel : 

Yards long. Yards wide. 

1850 2,600 700 

1852 5,700 260 

1854 700 200 broken and scattered 

1855 680 200 

The general increase of depth on the bulkhead from 1852 to 1855 
is 4^ feet. The above table gives striking evidence in favor of the 
adoption of this channel. It will be observed that there is an 
improvement in the condition of the channel from chart to chart, 
and that the scrutiny of five years has as yet developed nothing but 
a flattering progression, encouraging the laudable enterprise. 

A reference to the comparative chart will clearly exhibit the 
changes that have been followed up from year to year under your 
explicit instructions. 

Respectfully, your obedient servant, 

J. N. Maffitt, 
Lieutenant, U. S. Navy, Assistant U. S. Coast Survey. 
Prof. A. D. Bache, 

Superintendent Coast Survey. 

From Report of Superintendent of progress of the work during 
the year ending November, 1856. 

Hydrography of James River, Virginia. — The sounding of this 
river has been continued within the season by the party of Lieut. 
Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. N., assistant in the Coast Survey, in 
the schooner Crawford. Operations were begun on the 9th of 

John Newland Maffitt 125 

June in the usual manner of this party, by the measurement of a 
preliminary base on Jamestown Island, for the determination of- 
the shore line o£ the river. In connection with the hydrographic 
work, the shores of the James River were traced from Hog Island 
upward as far as Dancing Point, above the mouth of the Chicka- 
hominy. The work was prosecuted until the ist of July, furnishing 
at that time the following statistics : 

Number of angles of determination 260 

Number of angles observed 1,196 

Number of miles run in soundings 810 

Total number of soundings 18,960 

Miles of shore line determined 30 

The party of Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt had been pre- 
viously engaged in the extension of various hydrographic surveys 
in Section V. 

Three sheets of the chart of James River, extending from 
Craney Island to the limits last reached by Lieutenant Command- 
ing Maffitt, have been received at this office, together with two 
volumes, in duplicate, of tidal observations recorded during the 
progress of the soundings. 

tfc >Jc % sfc % >|s ^s 

Hydrography between Charleston and Savannah. — The inshore 
hydrography of the coast of South Carolina, together with sound- 
ings in special localities between harbor and the entrance to Savan- 
nah River, has been completed within the past surveying season 
by the party of Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. N., assistant in 
the Coast Survey. 

Three surveying vessels were assigned for the accomplishment 
of this duty. 

Maffitt's channel, in Charleston Harbor, was again examined 
and a copy of the resulting chart of the present year furnished in 
April. Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt, with the schooners Ban- 
croft and Crazvford, also completed the necessary supplementary 
hydrography at the entrance of Port Royal Bay and Broad and 
Beaufort rivers, together with the hydrography and requisite shore 
line of St. Helena bar and sound, and the inshore soundings 
between the coast and Martin's Industry. 

Under Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt's direction Lieut. 
Hunter Davidson, in the schooner Gallatin, executed the inshore 
soundings, commencing two miles northeast of the mouth of North 
Edisto River, South Carolina, referred to in my report of last year 

126 The Life and Services of 

as the limit then reached in the operations of Lieutenant Simpson. 
The hydrography was continued southward by Lieutenant David- 
son, and connects with the work at St. Helena bar, already men- 
tioned as completed under the direction of Lieutenant Command- 
ing- Maffitt. Lieutenant Davidson also completed the hydrography 
of the bar and harbor of South Edisto River, and made a recon- 
naissance at the entrance of North Edisto, to ascertain the changes 
which had occurred since the original survey in 1851. 

Supplementary soundings were made in the vicinity of the bar 
of Georgetown Harbor and to the northward and eastward of Rat- 
tlesnake shoal. The data last referred to will be presented as early 
as practicable in a new edition of the chart of Charleston Harbor, 
first issued in 1855. 

The hydrographic work having been commenced in December, 
the general severity of the winter of 1855-56 offered serious 
obstacles to the progress of the surveying party afloat in this sec- 
tion, and the return of statistics, under these known circumstances, 
showing, as it does, more than the usual amount of work com- 
pleted, as compared with the average of past seasons for this and 
other sections, is highly creditable to the zeal evinced by the hydro- 
graphic chief and to the energy of the officers associated with him. 

Observations of tides and' currents were made during the 
progress of the hydrography. Four permanent and two temporary 
tidal stations were established at St. Helena bar and South Edisto 
River. Occasional tidal observations were made also at Fort 
Sumter and at South Wharf, in Georgetown Harbor. 

Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt subsequently (in June) con- 
tinued the hydrography of James River, the statistics of which are, 
exclusive of the following summary of work completed on the 
coast of South Carolina within the season : 

Whole number of soundings 107,855 

Whole number of angles 9>5 2 7 

Miles run in soundings 4,801 

Specimens of bottom taken from different localities 65 

Current stations 7 

Permanent tidal stations 4 

Temporary tidal stations 4 

Full records of the hydrographic operations have been returned, 
in duplicate, and deposited in the archives of the office. 

Charts of the re-survey of Maffitt's channel, scale 1-5,000; 
entrance to Charleston Harbor, 1-5,000; North channel, George- 

John Newland Maffitt 127 

town bar, North Edisto bar, and hydrographic reconnaissance of 
Port Royal entrance and bay, 1-20,000, have been received from 
Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt and recorded with the archives. 

A. D. Bache. 

Appendix No. 14. 

Report of Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. N., assistant in the 
Coast Survey, on the changes affecting the entrance to North 
Edisto River, South Carolina. 

James River, August 26, 1856. 

Dear Sir : The following deductions are based upon careful 
comparison of the survey of North Edisto bar made in 1851, and a 
re-survey of this year. 

The general formation of the bar has not been much altered 
since the survey of 1851, though the general position of the two 
channels has somewhat changed. The entrance to the south chan- 
nel from seaward remains the same, but the inner entrance has 
been narrowed about two hundred and thirty metres, by the 
encroachment of the bank on the south side; several 12-foot spots 
of the former survey seemed to have disappeared, and the channel 
now shows 13 feet at mean low water. The outer entrance to the 
east channel has shifted to the southward and westward about two 
hundred metres, and has widened about fifty metres ; the inner 
entrance has shifted to the northward and eastward about one 
hundred metres, thus altering materially the range of the channel. 
The shoal or middle ground between the channels has somewhat 
enlarged and shifted its general position to the southward and west- 
ward about two hundred metres. The 6-foot curve remains nearly 
the same. On the south side of the south channel it has shifted 
to the northward about one hundred metres. 

The comparison sheet exhibits the curves taken from the charts 
of 1851 and 1856. 

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

J. N. Maffitt, 
Lieutenant Commanding. 
Prof. A. D. Bache, 

Superintendent U. S. Coast Survey, Washington, D. C. 

128 The Life and Services of 

Appendix No. 15. 

Report of Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. N., assistant in the 
Coast Survey, on the development of a new channel betiveen 
Martin's Industry and the southeast breaker {Port Royal 
entrance), South Carolina, 

James River, August 26, 1856. 
Dear Sir : During the progress of the hydrography of Martin's 
Industry a channel unknown to the pilots and unnoticed by the best 
authority was developed, and I think may fairly be claimed as a 
discovery by the Coast Survey. The most authentic and recent 
chart of this locality, made a few years ago by Captain Bythwood, 
of Beaufort, South Carolina, gives no indication of the channel 
referred to, nor is there mention made of it in the "Coast Pilot." 
This channel lies between Martin's Industry shoal and the south- 
east breaker. The old east channel is two miles to the northward 
of it, and the main or south channel two and three-quarter miles 
to the southward and westward. Through the "southeast" or 
Coast Survey channel there is a depth of 20 feet at mean low water, 
with an average width of three-quarters of a mile. The course of 
the channel is northeast and southeast. I herewith enclose a trac- 
ing of the channel-ways over Port Royal bar and would respect- 
fully suggest that five buoys be placed as per diagram, in order 
that the east and south channels may be navigated with safety by 
vessels under the necessity of using Port Royal as a harbor of 

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant, 

J. N. Maffitt, 
Lieutenant Commanding. 
Prof. A. D. Bache, 

Superintendent U. S. Coast Survey, Washington, D. C. 

From Report of the Superintendent of the Coast Survey showing 
the progress of that tvork during the year ending November 
1, 1857. 
Re-examination of Cape Fear bars and entrances. — A complete 
hydrographic re-survey of this vicinity was made in December by 
Lieut." Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. N., assistant in the Coast 
Survey. The result of his observation showed, in comparison 
with the survey made in 1851, that for all essential purposes of 
navigation the old main bar channel has ceased to exist. Remark- 
able changes were also noted as having occurred in the entire local- 
ity south of Bald Head Point. In his report Lieutenant Command- 
ing Maffitt says : 

John Newland Maffitt 129 

"Where in 185 1 nine, ten, and eleven feet could be found in the 
channel, only five, four, and three feet can at present be obtained 
at mean low water. On spring tides with a northwesterly wind 
this old channel is in many places awash." 

Lieutenant Commanding- Maffitt suggests the prolongation of 
the western Bald Head jetty, for deepening the channel, and cites, 
in support of that opinion, the improvement since 1852 of the slue, 
to which my attention was drawn in a personal examination of the 
main bar. 

Slight changes only were found in the western channel, and the 
middle ground is reported as not having materially changed since 
the last survey. 

At New Inlet the shore line was found to be much altered, and 
the Federal Point channel narrowed, nearly closed and shifted to 
the northward. The report of Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt, 
showing in detail the results of comparisons, made between the 
recent survey and that of 1851, is given at length in Appendix 
No. 17. 

Hydrographic re-survey of Cape Fear bar and New Inlet, North 
Carolina. — Before resuming the regular outside hydrography of 
this section [Section V. — From Cape Fear to the St. Mary's River, 
including part of the coast of North Carolina and the coast of 
South Carolina and Georgia] at the beginning of the present sur- 
veying year, Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. N., assistant in the 
Coast Survey, made a thorough re-examination of the bars and 
channels of Cape Fear entrance. The surveys made in this locality 
in 1851 and 1852 were taken by him as the bases of comparison, 
and the results were presented in a special report, a copy of which 
is given in Appendix No. 17. The Sketch No. 33 shows distinctly 
the changes which have taken place. The main bar has shoaled 
and the western channel is now the main entrance. The pocket 
observed in 1852 as affording the rudiment of a new channel 
through the main bar has improved, extending still nearer to the 
ocean than formerly. In the re-survey at Cape Fear the soundings 
were extended about ten miles and a half abreast of the western 
bar and main ship-channel and carried inside as far as a line joining 
Bald Head light-house and Fort Caswell. The hydrography exe- 
cuted at New Inlet comprises the space two miles seaward from 
Federal Point and extending southward and westward, to include 
the entrance, beyond Zeek's Island. 

130 The Life and Services of 

A synopsis of the statistics of this work is thus stated in the 
general report of Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt : 

Miles run in soundings 506 

Number of angles determined 1,832 

Number of soundings 2 7>!43 

Hydrography of the coast of South Carolina. — The in-shore 
soundings necessary for the completion of the coast chart between 
Cape Roman and the entrance to Charleston Harbor have been 
executed by the party of Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt. 

The limits of this work include the entrance to Bull's Bay and a 
belt of hydrography extending evenly southward and westward 
along the coast to a distance seaward of about ten miles. 

Two surveying vessels, the schooners Crawford and Bancroft, 
were employed in this service, and while thus engaged, on the 4th 
of January, the first-named vessel was blown from her station off 
Bull's Island in a furious storm which prevailed along the coast. 
By extraordinary exertions Lieutenant Chandler, the officer in 
charge of the Crawford, kept the vessel afloat during twenty-four 
days of unusually tempestuous weather, and finally succeeded in 
reaching Smithville, North Carolina, with loss of sails, one of the 
surveying boats, and considerable damage to the schooner. To 
the energy of Lieutenant Chandler and the excellent conduct of the 
crew must be attributed the preservation of the vessel, which, be- 
fore making port, had been leaking badly. 

The hydrography of the immediate coast from Cape Roman to 
Tybee light is now complete. Considerable progress has also been 
made in the off-shore soundings of this vicinity, and in the investi- 
gation of the normal current at stations distant 20 miles from the 
land. The completion of the off-shore work was prevented by bad 
weather. Supplementary lines requisite to the completion of the 
deep-sea hydrography will be run on the next return of the vessels 
of the party to the section. 

The statistics of the work are as follows : 

Miles run in executing shore work 1,821 

Number of angles determined 4-776 

Number of soundings 50,856 

Miles run in deep-sea soundings 810 

Number of soundings (off-shore) 2,374 

Number of specimens of bottom 277 

John Newland Maffitt 131 

During the progress of the hydrographic work in this section, 
Maffitt's channel was re-examined and supplementary soundings 
were executed off and within the entrance to St. Helena sound, 
completing the hydrographic survey of that locality. 

Miles run in soundings 636 

Angles determined 1 ,533 

Number of soundings 14,41 1 

The unusual severity of the weather interfered with the progress 
of the work generally in the Southern sections, but the statistics 
presented as the result of the operations of this party fall but little 
below the average of past seasons. 

At the approach of summer Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt 
proceeded with the vessels of his party and prosecuted the hydro- 
graphy of James River, Virginia, mention of which has been made 
in its proper place under Section III. 

Appendix No. 17. 

Report of Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. N., assistant Coast 
Survey, showing the result of a re-examination of the bars and 
entrances to Cape Fear River, North Carolina. 

United States Schooner "Crawford," 
Charleston, December 19, 1857. 
Sir: I herewith enclose a tracing showing the result of the 
re-examination of the Cape Fear bar, made in accordance with your 
instructions of September last. From a comparison of the present 
survey with that of 1851 it would appear that the progressive 
deterioration of this bar within the period of five years included 
within the recent and previous examination by the Coast Survey, 
and for an interval prior, as derived from other authority, has at 
length reached such a point that, for all essential purposes of navi- 
gation, the old main bar channel has ceased to exist. The 18-foot 
curve, from abreast of Bald Head Point, extends 580 yards less to 
seaward than it did in 1851. The 12-foot curve has contracted, in 
the same direction, 66 yards. The Finders have become connected 
with Marshall's shoal, and where, in 185 1, there was nine, ten, and 
eleven feet in the channel, but five, four, and three feet at present 
can be obtained at mean low water. On spring tides, and with a 
northwesterly wind, this old channel is in many places awash. This 
entire locality has undergone a total change, and the accumulation 
of sand is so great that in all probability, with the continuance of 

132 The Life and Services of 

existing causes, the channel will not resume entirely the former 
passageway to the sea. The deterioration of this bar is, by the 
pilots and others, now erroneously attributed to the construction 
of Bald Head jetties, whereas their erection has already supplied a 
most important desideratum for protecting the shore of this im- 
portant locality. So long as a turning point like Bald Head is 
subjected to the abrasion of the current and the consequent trans- 
portation of its sand to different parts of the channel, there can 
be no permanency in its direction or capacity. The security of this 
point will undoubtedly in time insure the opening of a better and 
more direct channel. In fact, such are the present indications, as 
the pocket, or slue, which attracted your attention in 1852, has 
improved and now manifests a still greater tendency to communi- 
cate freely with the ocean. If I might hazard a suggestion, it 
would be decidedly in favor of the immediate prolongation of the 
western Bald Head jetty, with a view of restoring the ancient limits 
of that point and deflecting the ebb current through what appears 
a more natural channel, such as is exhibited by Wimble's chart of 
1738. The closing of New Inlet would, of course, be an important 
auxiliary. I incline to the opinion that the present condition of 
the main bar may be, in part, accounted for by the rapid washing 
away of Bald Head Point, thereby changing the direction of the 
channel more to the eastward, and the ebb current, freighted with 
sand, has, at certain points (the Fingers, for instance), encountered 
an ocean current, which, after an easterly blow, is very rapid to 
the westward, over Frying Pan shoals. At this point of meeting 
the ebb is exhausted and the deposit occurs. Of course the greater 
the abrasion at Bald Head, the greater the deflection of the channel 
from its natural course, the more the tidal current would be dif- 
fused, and consequently the less would be its scouring power. 

The pocket, or slue, has made seaward, and as it demonstrates, 
through the narrowest part of the bar. An opening here would 
seem to give promise of a good and safe channel, such as existed in 
the same place in 1738, prior to the opening of New Inlet and wear- 
ing away of Bald Head. The further extension of the jetties 
toward this opening would unquestionably insure the result desired. 
It is certain that no injury can be occasioned to the bar by the 
experiment proposed. The valuable commerce of Wilmington, and 
interests connecting through that city with a large and wealthy sec- 
tion of the State, demand that prompt attention be given to the 
improvement of the Cape Fear entrance. 

The Coast Survey chart of 1852 gives the following differences 
in the old bar, as compared with the present examination. The 

John Newland Maffitt 133 

18-foot curve has contracted seaward 490 yards ; the 12-foot curve 
in the same direction 1 1 yards, and in the channel-way, for instance, 
where the outer buoys were located with seven, eight, nine, and 
ten feet between them, but five, four, and three feet now exist at 
mean low water, which change, as compared with the chart of 185 1, 
shows the deterioration to be progressive but irregular. The slue 
in 1 85 1 had a mean depth of 6 feet, and the distance from its inner 
6-foot curve to its outer 6-foot curve was 984 yards. The 12-foot 
curves (outer and inner) were then separated by a distance of 1,586 
yards. In 1852 an evident improvement had commenced, as will 
be observed from the fact that the distance between the inner and 
outer 6-foot curves was but 405 yards, a difference at once in its 
favor of 580 yards, in reference to this particular curve of 6 feet. 
The 12-foot curve has not changed, as shown by comparison of the 
charts of 185 1 and 1852. It will be seen by the present chart 
(1856) that this slue has continued to improve in general capacity 
since 1852, the distance between the outer and inner 6-foot curves 
being now only 214 yards; and the 12-foot curves are separated 
by only 984 yards, giving thus an extension of the water passage 
seaward of considerable importance. Reeper's shoal, on its east 
side, is generally bare at low water. It assists in confining the ebb 
current to its work of dredging out the slue, and serves at the same 
time as a breakwater against the influence of the heavy easterly 
waves; the "Middle Ground" affording the same facilities on the 
west side. As the direction of this anticipated outlet over the nar- 
rowest part of the bar is not in positive opposition to the coast ebb 
and flood current, a deposit such as has occurred in the old main 
channel could not reasonably be anticipated, for the increased 
capacity of the ebb current by the closing of the new inlet and all 
the dredging resources of the river thus concentrated would, as 
a natural consequence, force the entire bar farther seaward into 
deeper water. 

The western channel has undergone but little change. Its pres- 
ent capacity is 10 feet at mean low water. On the Rip there is a 
depth of 8 feet, but its fluctuations in direction and depth are very 

Changes occur almost monthly, the Rip being particularly sub- 
ject to the influence of southerly gales. The pilots are forced to 
give constant attention, in consequence of its variable character. 
I am convinced that no improvement could be made in this locality 
offering the slightest hope of permanency. 

The "Middle Ground" has not changed materially since the last 
survey. The shore line at Bald Head has kept pace with the jetties, 

134 The Life and Services of 

and the wattling to the eastward has fulfilled the purpose designed 
in the accumulation of sand, and the consequent extension seaward 
of the high-water mark. 

New Inlet. — The shore line about this inlet has changed remark- 
ably since my former survey, and should be retraced by the plane 
table. Where the wharf at Zeek's Island now stands the Coast 
Survey chart of 1851 gives 15 feet ; and so rapid was the accumu- 
lation of sand soon after the wharf was constructed, that it ceased 
to be of use for the landing of materials required for the closing 
of the slues, and an extension some fifty-five yards farther into the 
channel became necessary. 

The shore line followed the wharf, and now there is but four feet 
depth at its outer end. On the Federal Point side, opposite to 
Zeek's Island wharf, the shore has made to the southward some 
two hundred and twenty yards. 

New Inlet has narrowed since 185 1 about three hundred and 
seventy-five yards. 

The closing of the inlet to the southward of Zeek's Island has 
been successfully accomplished, and the ebb and flood entirely shut 
off from those former passageways, the result of which is to feed 
New Inlet with an additional amount of flood. The pilots have 
conceived the idea that the closing of the two small inlets has been 
of marked benefit to New Inlet bar. Be that as it may, the bar has 
certainly undergone noticeable changes, and has increased one foot 
in mean depth since 1852. The entire channel has shifted to the 
northward 514 yards since 185 1. It now runs where the Middle 
Ground was in 1851 and 1852. Carolina shoal has followed the 
shifted channel, and extends eastwardly 273 yards farther than in 
1 85 1. The W.S.W. point of the Middle Ground has been washed 
away for about 394 yards, and where depths of five and six feet 
occurred in 1851, twenty and twenty-one feet can now be found. 

Federal Point channel has narrowed until it is nearly closed, and 
at the same time shifted to the northward. New Inlet channel is 
now, in its narrowest part, between the 6-foot curves, 284 yards 
wide; in 1851 it was only 164 yards. In 1851 the narrowest part 
of the channel, abreast of Zeek's Island wharf, from 6-foot curve 
to 6-foot curve, was 332 yards. At present, in the narrowest part 
of the same locality, the distance is, from 6-foot curve to 6-foot 
curve, 197 yards. 

The bulkhead athwart the mouth of New Inlet has undergone 
some few changes, none, however, of consequence, excepting a 
prolongation of the southern spit of about one hundred and sixty- 
four yards, thus lapping entirely the mouth of New Inlet. In refer- 

John Newland Maffitt 135 

ence to the very improved state of this bar, I am inclined to think 
it due only to the continuance of recent strong southerly winds ; 
for I have long- observed that when the wind blows with violence 
from the northward and eastward. New Inlet bar decreases in 
depth, while the western channel and Rip improve. With a con- 
tinuance of strong- southerly winds the converse of this has always 
been apparent. 

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

J. N. Maffitt, 
Lieut. Comdg., U. S. Navy, and Assistant Coast Survey. 
Prof. A. D. Bache, 

Superintendent, U. S. Coast Survey, Washington, D. C. 

Report of Superintendent A. D. Bache for the year ending 
November, 1858. 

SfS 5fC *fi 2JC 3|a 3{C 5|C 

The survey has lost, during the year over which this report 
extends, the services of four experienced and able hydrographic 
chiefs : Commander B. F. Sands and Lieutenants C. R. P. Rogers, 
O. H. Berryman, and J. N. Aoaffitt, each remarkable in his special 
province for ability and success. I have elsewhere more particu- 
larly noticed their labors in connection with their results. 

Jn anticipation of his detachment, the office work of the party of 
Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt was vigorously prosecuted and brought 
up before his separation from the Coast Survey. Three sheets 
comprising the soundings last made in the James River were plot- 
ted under his direction and left at the office in April last, together 
with twenty-seven volumes containing the original notes of sound- 
ings, angles, and tidal observations. Smooth duplicates accom- 
panied the records referred to. 

'' On January 18, 1858, Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt was 
4 -detached, and then ordered to command the Dolphin, June 1. 
3. to the Coast Survey Office, and on May 20, 1858, he was 
* detached from command of a hydrographic party, and ordered 
5 June II, 1859, he was ordered to be ready to command the 
- Crusader, and June 28 he was also directed to act as purser of 

the Crusader. 


"Retiring Board" or Naval Commission and their arbitrary and unjust 
proceedings — '"Case" of Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. N., before the Naval 
Court of Inquiry requested by him — Abstract of his Services — Testi- 
mony of witnesses — Orders offered in testimony by Lieutenant Maf- 
fitt, etc. — Promptly restored and placed in command of the U. S. brig 
Dolphin — Extract of decree of U. S. District Court in trial of slaver 
Echo captured by the Dolphin while under command of Lieutenant 
Commanding Maffitt — Letter. 

In the year 1857 there existed a Naval Commission, or 
"Retiring Board." They numbered fifteen, and, judging 
from some of their proceedings, their findings were often 
arbitrary and unjust, as the following "case" will show. 
Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt, "while," as he writes, 
"employed in active service in command of a hydrographic 
party of the Coast Survey," received through the public prints, 
the announcement that his name had been placed on the 
"furlough list," by a board of fifteen officers, ordered to 
assemble under the Act of Congress of March 2, 1855, and 
directed to report to the Secretary of the Navy the names and 
rank of all officers who, in their judgment, were found 
incapable of performing promptly and efficiently all their duty 
ashore and afloat. Lieutenant Maffitt wrote : 

Engaged in the active discharge of the duties of my position and 
profession, I had felt secure in the consciousness of having at all 
times faithfully, promptly, and efficiently, performed my duties 
ashore and afloat, that I was beyond the reach of any legislation on 
the subject of efficiency of the Navy. I was aware that a prejudice 
existed in the minds of some officers against the special service in 
which I was engaged, but I little imagined that I was to be made 
the peculiar mark of their disapprobation ; such, however, seems 
to be the fact ; for it appears now, after a long and anxious interval 
of uncertainty, that the only charge on which my furlough was 
grounded was that of my continued service on the Coast Survey. 

John Newland Maffitt 137 

Following is the complete record in the case of Lieut. J. N. 
Maffitt, U. S. N., before the Naval Court of Inquiry No. I. 
The court was composed of Commo. E. A. F. Lavallette, 
president ; Captains W. J. McCluney and H. A. Adams ; and 
C. H. Winder, judge-advocate. 

The Case of Lieut. J. N. Maffitt. 

Washington, D. C, July 6, 1857. 
At 10 a. m. Naval Court Inquiry No. 1 was in session and Lieut. 
J. N. Maffitt reported for a hearing of his case, in conformitv with 
the permission of the Honorable the Secretary of the Navy. 'Upon 
being questioned, if he had objections to any member who com- 
posed the court, he replied in the negative, whereupon the court 
was duly sworn. 

Whereupon Lieut. John N. Maffitt requested that the case be 
opened upon the part of the Government. 

The judge-advocate stated that the point in the case to which he 
would call the attention of the court is "Professional Fitness." He 
would therefore open the case by offering an abstract from the 
official manuscript register, showing his service, his entry in the 
Navy, and that he will here rest the case, on the part of the Govern- 
ment, for the present. 

Abstract of Lieutenant Maffitt's sea service and Coast Survey service 
taken from the Official Register. 

_ , n yrs. m. d. 

b eb. 25, 1832. Appointed midshipman 

Aug. 8, 1832. Ordered to U. S. S. St. Louis, Capt. J. T. 
Newton, W. I. Squadron 

Jan. 30, 1834. *Leave of absence .' T 

Oct. 1, 1834. Ordered to Navy Yard, Boston, Com Elliot'. '. 

Feb. 17, 1835. Ordered to U. S. Frigate Constitution, Com- 
modore Elliot 

March 26, 1838. Leave of absence 3 

June 8, 1838. Examined 

June 23, 1838. Leave 

June 28, 1838. Ordered to Government packet Woodbury] 
Lieut. Comdg. J. S. Nicholas 

Nov. 20, 1838. Ordered to U. S. S. Vandalia, Com. U. P. Levy 

March n, 1839. Appointed acting lieutenant 

Oct. 20, 1839. Ordered as acting master to U. S. frigate 
Macedonian, Commodore Shubrick 

Oct. 22^1840. Leave 

5 22 

1 11 

138 The Life and Services of 

Feb. 6, 1841. Ordered to Navy Yard, Pensacola, Commo- 
dore Dallas 

Oct. 26, 1841. Ordered as acting master, frigate Macedo- 
nian, Commodore Wilkinson 

1841. Approved acting lieutenant 

April 20, 1842. Detached from frigate Macedonian and or- 
dered to Coast Survey 5 24 

Oct. 15, 1842. Leave 

Nov. 21, 1842. Ordered to Rendezvous, Baltimore 

Jan. 2, 1843. Ordered to receiving ship 

May 9, 1843. Ordered to Coast Survey 

Still on Coast Survey 14 2 


Total sea service to July 9. 1857 19 

Sea service on board ships of war 7 

Service at navy yards and on board receiving vessels I 

Total service on hydrographic duty 14 

Total time unemployed since date of first orders 1 

Shore or other duty 2 

*Not received until April 6th, an error against Lieut. M. of. .. 2 

tNot received until Nov. 2, an error against Lieut. M. of 

Lieut. Maffitt when furloughed had been on the Coast Survey. . 12 

Lieutenant Maffitt here offered the following orders : 

U. S. Ship "Vandalia/' 
Ocean, March 11, 1839. 
Sir : You are hereby appointed an acting- lieutenant on board 
this ship, and you will, on the receipt of this, commence your duties 
as such ; this appointment to continue in force during my pleasure, 
or that of other proper authority. In connection with your duties 
of lieutenant, you will perform that of sailing master. 
Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

U. P. Levy, 

Pass'd Mid'n John N. Maffitt, 
U. S. Navy. 

Sir : You are hereby appointed an acting master on board the 
U. S. frigate Macedonian, and will report for duty to Captain 

Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

Wm. Branford Shubrick. 
Pass'd Mid'n John N. Maffitt, 
U. S. Frigate Macedonian. 














John Newland Maffitt 139 

Navy Department, 
October 26, 1841. 
Sir: You will proceed to Norfolk and report to Commodore 
Wilkinson for duty as acting master on board the United States 
frigate Macedonian. 

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant, 

A. P. Upshur. 
Pass'd Mid'n J. N. Maffitt, 
U. S. Navy Yard, Pensacola. 
Reported 26. November, 

J. Wilkinson. 

U. S. Frigate "Macedonian," 
Pensacola Bay, March 3, 1842. 
Sir : You are hereby appointed an acting lieutenant on board of 
the U. S. frigate Macedonian. This appointment to continue un- 
til the pleasure of the Secretary of the Navy shall be known on the 

Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

J. Wilkinson. 
Acting Master J. N. Maffitt, 
Frigate Macedonian. 

Lieut. Maxwell Woodhull, U. S. Navy, a witness on the part of 
Lieutenant Maffitt, is called, and, being sworn, is examined by 
Lieutenant Maffitt as follows : 

O. 1. What is your rank in the Navy? 

A. A lieutenant. 

O. 2. Are you acquainted with Lieutenant Maffitt ; if so, how 
long have you known him? 

A. I have known him for twenty-one years. 

Q. 3. Have you ever served with him ; if so when, where, and 
how long — and in what relative capacity? 

A. We served together as passed midshipmen, in the Coast Sur- 
vey, for nearly two years, from 1842, and afterward, for six years, 
on the same work, but not together — though we were in frequent 

Q. 4. Was Lieutenant Maffitt an efficient officer at the time you 
refer to? 

A. Perfectly. 

Q. 5. From your acquaintance with the professional efficiency of 
Lieutenant Maffitt, and your knowledge of the active sea service 
that he has constantly seen on the survey of the coast of the United 

140 The Life and Services of 

States for the last fourteen years, would you now consider him an 
efficient officer for all the duties of the Navy ? 

A. I do so consider him. 

O. 6. Do you consider him morally, mentally, physically, and 
professionally fit for the naval service, and for the active list 

A. I consider him fit under all these heads. 

Q. 7. Are you conversant with the system of government and 
discipline usual to vessels on the Coast Survey, officered and 
manned as they are from the Navy ? 

A. I am. 

Q. 8. Are not the customs, system of government, maneuvers 
on board of such vessels, similar, in all respects, to those on board 
of vessels in the regular service ; and are they not calculated to keep 
an active and intelligent officer conversant with his legitimate 

A. The same system, in all respects, as is adopted in the Navy, 
is pursued on board these vessels ; and I have seen as good dis- 
cipline on board these, as on board men-of-war. 
Cross-examined by judge-advocate: 

Q. 1. You say the same system and maneuvers are adopted on 
Coast Survey vessels, as on board men-of-war. How often do 
they exercise their battery? 

A. We did not exercise our guns as batteries. We had two 
guns, which were fired as signals. 

Q. 2. Do you believe as a naval officer, that a person who has 
never seen any service in the grade of lieutenant, on board a man- 
of-war — and who has not seen service at all on board a man-of- 
war for over fifteen years — is competent to the multifarious and 
responsible duties of the first lieutenant of a frigate, or a line-of- 
battle ship? 

A. Any officer who had passed his examination creditably, and 
acting as a master of a vessel for the usual term, and been an 
acting lieutenant, and was an effective officer when he went on the 
Coast Survey in the active execution of his nautical knowledge, as 
Mr. Maffitt has been, I think that though he has not been on board a 
man-of-war for over 14 years, he is perfectly competent to be a 
first lieutenant of a frigate or a line-of-battle ship, except, perhaps, 
as to the new system of gunnery. 
Question by the court: 

Do you believe that an officer who has been out of the regular 
duties usually performed in a frigate at sea, for ten or twelve years, 

John Newland Maffitt 141 

is qualified to station and discipline a crew, or put the ship through 
the various evolutions, which are necessary in the course of her 

A. I think that there are some men that could do it — and I think 
Mr. Maffitt to be one of them — except as to the new system of 
gunnery. I look upon my Coast Survey service as the most useful 
and efficient portion of my service to myself and the country. 

The testimony of this witness is read over, and being correct, he 

Lieutenant Edward Lanier, United States Navy, is called on the 
part of Lieutenant Maffitt. 

Q. i. What is your rank in the Navy ? 

A. A lieutenant. 

Q. 2. Are you acquainted with Lieut. J. N. Maffitt ? 

A. I am. 

O. 3. How long have you known him ? 

A. I have known him for over twenty years. 

Q. 4. Have you served with Lieut. J. N. Maffitt ; if yea, state 
when and where, and what was his rank ? 

A. We served together in the Vandalia, in 1838 and 1839, as 
acting masters and acting lieutenants — we were a year together. 
We were in the same squadron in 1833 as midshipmen, on board 
of different ships. 

Q. 5. Was Lieutenant Maffitt an efficient officer at the period to 
which you allude, and did he not perform effectively all the duties 
of a lieutenant and sailing master? 

A. He was one of the most efficient officers I have ever seen, 
and performed the duties of master and watch officer efficiently. 

Q. 6. From your acquaintance with the professional efficiency 
of Lieutenant Maffitt when serving with him, and your knowledge 
of the active sea service that he has constantly seen in the survey 
of the coast of the United States for the last fourteen years, would 
you now consider him an efficient officer, for all the duties of a 
lieutenant in the Navy? 

A. Most certainly I would. 

Q. 7. Have you not known a lieutenant to be entirely absent 
from the sea some fourteen or fifteen years, and assume the duties 
of first lieutenant as the ship was leaving port, and promptly and 
efficiently perform all the responsible duties of first lieutenant? 

A. I don't remember any such instance. 

Q. 8. Do you consider Lieutenant Maffitt morally, mentally, 
physically, and professionally, fully competent for the active list 
of the Navy ? 

142 The Life and Services of 

A. I consider him eminently fitted for it. 

Cross-examined by the judge-advocate: 

Q. i. Have you ever performed the duties of first lieutenant of 
a frigate ? 

A. I have of the steam frigate Mississippi. 

O. 2. Do you as a naval officer believe that a person who has 
never seen any service on board a man-of-war for over fourteen 
years, is competent to discharge the multifarious and responsible 
duties of the first lieutenant of a frigate or a line-of-battle ship? 

A. I believe he is competent to perform the duties of the first 
lieutenant of a frigate or a line-of-battle ship if he has competently 
performed the duties of a lieutenant previous to his promotion. 
I believe this to be Mr. Maffitt's case — some men might not. 

O. 3. Are there any duties of a first lieutenant on board a first- 
rate man-of-war that requires careful practice to enable an officer 
to become conversant with them? 

A. Yes, there are ; but I think that he acquires them as a mid- 
shipman, passed midshipman, master, and as lieutenant. 

Q. 4. Then you think, by a priority of reasoning, that an officer 
who has passed to the grade of master and lieutenant is com- 
petent at once to command a squadron? 

A. No, sir. 

Q. 5. Is an officer of average abilities, who reached the position 
of first lieutenant, competent to command a squadron ? 

A. He might or might not be. 

Examination-in-chief resumed : 

O. 1. From the changes that are yearly made in gunnery, do you 
think that all the lieutenants of the Navy are constantly efficient 
in the practice of that branch of naval duty? And from your 
knowledge of my habits, do you not think that I am progressive — 
at least so far as theory goes — which from my past service, would 
enable me to put in practice that which I have learned ? 

A. All lieutenants are not constantly efficient, in consequence of 
the frequent changes. I consider Mr. Maffitt progressive, and I 
think that he could put in practice what he has theoretically learned. 

By the court: 

O. Do you believe that Mr. Maffitt could assume the duties of a 
first lieutenant, and watch, quarter, station the crew and discipline 
them effectively ? 

A. Yes, sir. 

John Newland Maffitt 143 

Examination-in-chief resumed. 

O. i. Do you believe that an officer, who has seen eight years' sea 
service in the line of his profession, and for several years has per- 
formed all the duties of lieutenant and sailing master, can, while 
in command of a sea-going Coast Survey vessel, with naval officers 
and naval men under his command, forget his legitimate profes- 
sion, or become inefficient for the duties of a lieutenant on the 
active list? 

A. I don't think he could — I am sure that Mr. Maffilt could not. 

O. 2. Please state what service Mr. Maffitt has performed on 
board a man-of-war since he has been promoted to a lieutenant. 

A. I don't know of his having performed any service since, on 
board a man-of-war. 

The testimony of this witness is read over, and being correct, he 

Lieut. Jas. H. Moore, U. S. N., a witness on the part of Lieuten- 
ant Maffitt, is called, and being sworn by the president, is examined 
by Mr. Maffitt as follows : 

Q. i. What is your rank in the Navy? 

A. A lieutenant. 

Q. 2. Are you acquainted with Lieutenant Maffitt? 

A. I am. 

0. 3. How long have you known him ? 

A. I have known him nineteen years. 

O. 4. Have you served with Lieutenant Maffitt ; if yea, state 
when and where, and what was his rank? 

A. I have been under his command for the last five months on 
the Coast Survey schooner Craivford. 

Q. 5. Was Lieutenant Maffitt an efficient officer, at the period to 
which you allude? 

A. Perfectly so. 

0. 6. From your acquaintance with the professional efficiency 
of Lieutenant Maffitt, when serving with him, and your knowledge 
of the active sea service that he has constantly seen on the survey 
of the coast of the United States, for the last fourteen years, would 
you now consider him an efficient officer, for all the duties of a 
lieutenant in the Navy? 

A. I do. 

Q. 7. Do you consider Lieutenant Maffitt morally, mentally, 
physically, and professionally, fully competent for the active list 
of the Navy ? 

A, I do consider him fully competent. 

144 The Life and Services of 

Q. 8. Are you conversant with the system of government and 
discipline usual to vessels in the Coast Survey, officered and 
manned, as they are, from the Navy? 

A. Yes. 

Q. 9. Are not the customs, system of government, maneuvers on 
board such vessels, similar in all respects to those on board vessels 
in the regular service? 

A. They are very similar in all respects, except as to the exer- 
cise of guns, etc. 

Q. 10. Is not Lieutenant Maffitt, as lieutenant commanding a 
Coast Survey vessel, entirely associated with naval officers, com- 
manding both them and a naval crew — and is he not in the habit of 
frequently falling in with men-of-war and associating with both 
officers and ships — which association is well calculated to improve 
his knowledge of the naval profession? 

A. He is. 

The testimony of this witness is read over, and being correct, 
he is discharged. 

Lieut. J. R. M. Mullany, U. S. N., a witness on the part of Lieu- 
tenant Maffitt, is called, and being sworn, is examined as follows : 

Q. 1. What is your rank in the Navy? 

A. A lieutenant. 

Q. 2. Are you acquainted with Lieut. J. N. Maffitt ? 

A. I am. 

Q. 3. How long have you known him? 

A. I have known him since 1836. 

Q. 4. Have you served with Lieutenant Maffitt; if yea, state 
when and where, and what was his rank? 

A. I served with him in the same squadron, a portion of 1836, 
and all of 1837, and on board the Shark from December, 1837, to 
March, 1838. 

O. 5. Was Lieutenant Maffitt an efficient officer at the period 
to which you allude ? 

A. He was. 

O. 6. Was not Lieutenant Maffitt at all times active and efficient 
in the performance of his duties, and prompt in emergencies? 

A. Particularly so ; he displayed great aptitude for his pro- 

O. 7. Do you remember any instance wherein Lieutenant 
Maffitt's energies as an officer were called into question ; if so. 
please state them ? 

A. In one case of difficulty which occurred on board the Shark 
among the crew, in consequence of their drinking liquor while 

John Newland Maffitt 145 

breaking out the spirit-room, Lieutenant Maffitt displayed great 
activity and energy on that occasion in 'quelling the difficulty, by 
going among them, and assisting to secure the ring-leaders. 

Q. 8. From your acquaintance with the professional efficiency 
of Lieutenant Maffitt when serving with him, and your knowledge 
of the active sea service that he has constantly seen in the survey 
of the coast of the United States for the last fourteen years — 
would you now consider him an efficient officer for all the duties 
of a lieutenant in the Navy ? 

A. Taking into consideration Mr. Maffitt's intelligence and 
aptitude in his profession, I do consider him competent to perform 
the duties of a lieutenant. 

Q. 9. Do you consider Lieutenant Maffitt morally, mentally, 
physically, and professionally, fully competent for the active list 
of the Navy ? 

A. Ida 

O. 10. Are you conversant with the system of government and 
discipline usual to vessels in the Coast Survey, officered and 
manned as they are from the Navy ? 

A. I am. I served for little over two years on the Coast Survey, 
on board the brig Washington. 

Q. 11. Are not the customs, system of government, maneuvers, 
etc., on board such vessels similar in all respects to those on board 
vessels in the regular service, save and excepted in the use of a 
battery, and are they not calculated to keep an active and intelli- 
gent officer conversant with his legitimate profession ? 

A. They are the same in most respects, and calculated to keep an 
officer, who felt disposed to pay proper attention, conversant with 
his legitimate profession ; it might not be the case with a careless 
officer, but I think it would be with Mr. Maffitt. 

The testimony of this witness is read over, and being correct, he 

Tuesday, 7th July, 1857, 

10J/2 o'clock A. M. 

The court met pursuant to adjournment — all the members and 
the judge-advocate present. 

J. N. Maffitt in attendance. The record of yesterday's proceed- 
ings is read over and approved. 

Lieutenant Maffitt here offers in evidence the following orders 
from the Navy Department, and letter from himself to the Secre- 
tary of the Navy : 

146 The Life and Services of 

U. S. Surveying Schr. "Gallatin," 

Newport, R. I., May 18, 1846. 
Sir : I have the honor to request orders to the squadron em- 
ployed off the coast of Mexico. 

Very respectfully, your ob't serv't, 
J. N. Maffitt, Lt. U. S. Navy. 
To the Hon. Geo. Bancroft, 

Secretary of the Navy, Washington. 

Navy Department, 
February 8, 1848. 
Sir: You are hereby appointed to the command of the U. S. 
Surveying Schooner Gallatin, attached to the Coast Survey, and 
you will report for duty accordingly. 

I am respectfully, your ob't serv't, 
J. Y. Mason. 
Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. Navy, 
Washington, D. C. 

Navy Department, 
October 13, 1855. 
Sir : In consideration of the very cogent reasons suggested by 
the Superintendent of the Coast Survey, and presented by the Sec- 
retary of the Treasury, I have deemed it proper to order you to 
resume your command of the Coast Survey Schooner Crawford. 
You will report by letter to the Secretary of the Treasury for the 
command accordingly. 

I am respectfully, your ob't serv't, 
J. C. Dobbin. 
Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. Navy, 
New York. 

Commander Arthur Sinclair, U. S. Navy, a witness on the part 
of Lieutenant Maffitt, is called, and being sworn by the president, 
is examined by Lieutenant Maffitt as follows : 

Q. I. What is your rank ? 

A. A commander. 

Q. 2. Are you acquainted with Lieutenant Maffitt; if so, how 
long have you known him ? 

A. I have known him since 1839. 

O. 3. Have you ever served with him ; if so, when, where and 
how long? 

A. On board the Frigate Macedonian, in 1839 and 1840, for a 
period of about fifteen or sixteen months. I was a lieutenant, and 

John Newland Maffitt 147 

he was a passed midshipman and acting master, and doing duty 
occasionally as a lieutenant. 

Q. 4. From your personal knowledge of Lieutenant Maffitt, do 
you consider him mentally, morally, physically, and professionally, 
fit for the active list of the Navy ? 

A. Up to the termination of my service with him, I considered 
him as a remarkably intelligent and efficient officer, both as a navi- 
gator and a deck officer. Since then, I have not met him. Men- 
tally, morally, so far as my knowledge extends, and physically, I 
consider him qualified. 

Cross-examined by judge-advocate: 

Q. 1. As a naval officer, do you believe that an officer who has 
seen no other service as a lieutenant, than occasionally doing that 
duty as a passed-midshipman, and who, since that period, has not 
served on board a man-of-war, nearly sixteen years, is competent 
to all the duties of a first lieutenant of a frigate ? 

A. Unless he is an extraordinary man, I should certainly say he 
would lose ground ; but I cannot say he would be inefficient. 

The testimony of this witness being correct, as read over, he is 

Lieut. J. R. M. Mullany, a witness for Lieutenant Maffitt, who 
was examined yesterday, appears and desires to make the follow- 
ing explanation : 

In speaking, in my testimony yesterday, of the difficulty on board 
the Shark, I don't think I expressed myself sufficiently strong. It 
was a very serious difficulty — so much so, that the vessel was in 
possession of the crew at one moment, and it was owing to the 
prompt interposition of Lieutenant Maffitt and others, that the diffi- 
culty was quelled so quickly. On another occasion it was well 
understood — 

Here the judge-advocate admonished the witness that he could 
not speak of what he did not personally know. 

Q. 1 (by the judge-advocate). Who commanded the Shark on 
the occasion you refer to ? 

A. Commander George Pearson. As soon as he was called, he 
came promptly on deck and assisted in putting down the disturb- 

Q. 2. Were not all the officers prompt to their duty on this 
occasion ? 

A. Yes — Mr. Maffitt being on deck at the time, naturally went 
forward more promptly. I don't mean to convey the idea that 
there was a mutiny, but that the men were ungovernably drunk, 

148 The Life and Services of 

and had possession of the vessel for a moment, and Mr. Maffitt was 
mainly instrumental in quelling it. He was a midshipman. 

Q. 3. Please state who were the commissioned officers of the 
vessel ? 

A. Lieutenant Colhoun, Lieut. B. T. Totten. The master was 
W. H. Robinson. 

The testimony of this witness is read over, and being correct, he 
is discharged. 

Lieut. Tunis A. M. Craven, U. S. Navy, a witness on the part of 
Lieutenant Maffitt, being called, is sworn by the president, and ex- 
amined as follows : 

Q. 1. Have you ever served with Lieutenant Maffitt? 

A. I have many years ago, as a midshipman on board the St. 
Louis, in 1833 and 1834, for about fifteen months. 

Q. 2. Was Lieutenant Maffitt an efficient officer at the period 
to which you refer ? 

A. He was, very. 

Q. 3. From your acquaintance with the professional efficiency 
of Lieutenant Maffitt, when serving with him, and your knowledge 
of the active sea service that he has seen in the survey of the coast 
of the United States for the last fourteen years, would you now 
consider him an efficient officer for all the duties of a lieutenant ? 

A. From my acquaintance and knowledge of Lieutenant Maffitt, 
I consider him qualified to perform any duty in the Navy in his 
proper line. 

The testimony of this witness is read over, and being correct, 
he is discharged. 

Lieut. C. R. P. Rogers, U. S. Navy, a witness on the part of 
Lieutenant Maffitt, is called, and having been sworn by the presi- 
dent, is examined by Lieutenant Maffitt as follows : 

Q. 1. Are you acquainted with Lieutenant Maffitt ; if yea, where 
have you known him and under what circumstances ? 

A. I have known him since 1840. I was serving in the Gulf, 
and I met him on board the Macedonian from time to time. In 
1845 I was attached to the same party on the Coast Survey to which 
he belonged, where I served with him for two or three years, 
between 1845 an d 1850. 

O. 2. What is your opinion of Lieutenant Maffitt, mentally, 
morally, physically, and professionally? 

A. I have the most exalted opinion of his merits and worth, in 
all these respects. 

Q. 3. Do you think Lieutenant Maffitt fit for the active list of 
the Navy? 

John Newland Maffitt 149 

A. I do. 

Q. 4. Do you think Lieutenant Maffitt has been impaired in his 
efficiency for the Navy by his long continuance on the Coast 
Survey ? 

A. I think it probable. I think that active service in the Navy 
on foreign stations, might have developed a higher degree of 
merit. But at the same time I think him quite fit for any naval 
service he might be called on to perform afloat or ashore. 

Q. 5. From your knowledge derived from your association, offi- 
cially and otherwise, with Lieutenant Maffitt, would you consider 
him an efficient officer for all the duties of a lieutenant, provided 
he has seen constant active sea service on the Coast Survey for 
fourteen years past? 

A. I do consider him qualified for every duty in the Navy. 

Q. 6. Are you acquainted with the character of the service Lieu- 
tenant Maffitt has to your knowledge performed ; if so, state that 
service, and its usefulness to a naval officer? 

A. I am acquainted generally with the service he has performed. 
During the winter months on the southern coast of the United 
States, I consider this service, much of which is outside upon the 
ocean, calculated to develop habits of self-reliance and the highest 
qualities of a seaman. The coast is stormy and inhospitable. 

Cross-examined by judge-advocate: 

Q. Upon what duty are you now engaged ? 

A. I am in command of the surveying steamer Bibb, having 
joined the Coast Survey on my return from the coast of Africa two 
years ago. 

The testimony of this witness is read over, and being correct, he 
is discharged. 

Lieut. Washington Gwathmy, U. S. Navy, a witness on the part 
of Lieutenant Maffitt, is called, and being sworn by the president, 
is examined as follows by Lieutenant Maffitt : 

O. 1. Have you ever served with Lieutenant Maffitt; if yea, 
when and where? 

A. I served with him on board the Woodbury a few days in 
1838, and on board the Macedonian in 1839 and 1840 about two 
or three months. I was a passed-midshipman ; he was a passed- 
midshipman on board the Woodbury, and acting master on board 
the Macedonian. From 1838 to 1840 we were in the same 

Q. 2. Was Lieutenant Maffitt an efficient officer at the period 
to which you refer? 

150 The Life and Services of 

A. I considered him very efficient. 

Q. 3. Do you consider Lieutenant Maffitt morally, mentally, 
physically, and professionally, fully competent for the active list 
of the Navy? 

A. Perfectly. 

The testimony of this witness is read over, and being correct, 
he is discharged. 

Capt. Henry B. Tyler, U. S. M. Corps, a witness on the part of 
Lieutenant Maffitt, is called, and being sworn by the president, is 
examined as follows : 

Q. 1. What rank do you hold in the Navy? 

A. Captain of Marines. 

Q. 2. Do you know Lieutenant Maffitt ; if yea, state when and 
under what circumstances? 

A. I knew him on board the Macedonian, I think in 1839, about 
ten months ; he was acting master, and I lieutenant of Marines. 

Q. 3. What was your judgment of his mental, moral, and phys- 
ical ability, and what was his general reputation for efficiency as 
an officer? 

A. He was qualified in every respect for the duties of an officer 
in the Navy — I will add, eminently so. His general reputation for 
efficiency was excellent. 

The testimony of this witness is read over, and being correct, he 

Purser Edward T. Dunn, U. S. N., a witness on the part of Mr. 
Maffitt, is called, and being sworn by the president, is examined 
as follows by Lieutenant Maffitt : 

Q. 1. Have you ever served with Lieutenant Maffitt; if so, 
when and where? 

A. I served with him on board the Macedonian in 1840, 1841, 
and 1842. He was acting master, and I think he was an acting 
lieutenant during the latter part of the cruise, and I was purser 
on board. 

Q. 2. What, in your judgment, was his mental, moral, and 
physical fitness for the naval service, and as far as your experience 
and judgment go, what was his professional competency? 

A. I consider him particularly fitted under the first three heads — 
no officer stood higher on board the ship. Professionally, I con- 
sidered him competent. 

The testimony of this witness is read over, and being correct, he 

Capt. Samuel Mercer, U. S. N., a witness on the part of the Gov- 
ernment, is sworn by the president, and examined. 

John Newland Maffitt 151 

Q. i. How long have you been in the naval service of the United 

A. Forty-two years. 

Q. As a naval officer, do you believe an officer is competent to 
the discharge of all the duties of a first lieutenant of a frigate, who 
has seen no duty as a lieutenant except occasionally acting as such 
for a short period as a passed midshipman, and who has not served 
on board a man-of-war in the grade of lieutenant, or in any other 
capacity, for nearly fourteen years ? 

A. I should certainly think he was not. 

Question by the court: 

Could you, as captain of a ship, place full reliance upon Mr. 
Maffitt, with his present experience, if ordered as your first lieu- 
tenant, to organize, station, and discipline the crew, and take 
charge of the deck in time of danger, or in critical circumstances ? 

A. I could not. 

Cross-examined by Lieutenant Maffitt: 

Q. I. Are you personally acquainted with the professional 
capacity of Lieutenant Maffitt, and the exact nature of the service 
he has performed for the last fourteen years? 

A. I have a pretty good running knowledge ; I have no personal 
knowledge of it. 

Q. 2. Have you ever served in any capacity on the Coast 
Survey ? 

A. I have never under its present organization. As a midship- 
man in 1816 I performed some surveying service. 

Q. 3. Have you any knowledge of the routine of duty on board 
of vessels on the Coast Survey ? 

A. I have not. 

Q. 4. Do you think that prolonged leave of absence, or employ- 
ment on special service, unfits any capable officer to resume the 
usual duties of sea service ? 

A. No, not any capable officer. He may become a little rusty. 

Q. 5. What length of time has elapsed at any time between 
your own orders for sea service? 

A. Probably three or four years. I was promoted as lieutenant 
in 1825. I was suffering then from inflammation of the eyes, that 
prevented my going to sea. Early in 1826 I went to sea as a 
lieutenant for the first time, and was compelled to return in conse- 
quence of the bad state of my eyes. I was not able to go to sea for 
five or six years, my eyes being still inflamed. When going to 

152 The Life and Services of 

sea after this long sojourn on shore, I found that I was much at 
a loss to perform my duty as a lieutenant, for some time. Since 
that time, 1833, I have been going- to sea pretty constantly. 

O. 6. Have you had under your command, at any time, officers 
who had seen service on the Coast Survey ; and if so, have you 
observed any deficiency on the part of these officers ? 

A. I can't remember any officer just now except George M. 
Totten. I think he had been on the Coast Survey — I don't know 
how long. He was an efficient officer. 
Examination-in-chief resumed: 

Q. You say that prolonged leave of absence or employment on 
special duty does not unfit a capable officer to resume usual sea 
duties? Please state whether you believe an officer can become 
capable to the complicated duties of a first lieutenant of a frigate, 
who has seen no other service on board a man-of-war than as a 
passed-midshipman, and for a short period as acting master and 
acting lieutenant? 

A. I should think not. 

The testimony of this witness is read over, and being correct, 
he retires. 

Com. John S. Nicholas, U. S. Navy, a witness on the part of 
Lieutenant Maffitt, is called, and being sworn by the president, is 
examined by Lieutenant Maffitt as follows : 

Q. 1. What is your rank in the Navy, and how long have you 
been in the service? 

A. A commander. I have been in the Navy forty-two years. 

Q. 2. Do you know Lieutenant Maffitt ? 

A. I have known him since December, 1838. 

Q. 3. Do you think him morally, mentally, physically, and pro- 
fessionally, fit for the active list of the Navy? 

A. As far as my knowledge goes, I should say he ivas, decidedly. 

Q. 4. Do vou think that an observing and intelligent officer, who 
has performed for years the duties of sailing master and acting 
lieutenant, can, if continuously at sea for fourteen years, part of 
the time as executive officer, and part as commander of a Govern- 
ment vessel, with naval officers and naval men, and naval customs 
for the o-uidance of discipline — become inefficient for all the duties 
of a lieutenant? 

A. No. T think not. 

O. 5. Will not constant connection with the sea and seamen, 
perfect an officer with knowledge of the character of men, and 
keep active those peculiar qualifications so essential for the effective 
discharge of the duties of a lieutenant? 

John Newland Maffitt 153 

A. I should say, decidedly, yes. 

O. 6. Do you think an officer who commands a Coast Survey 
vessel, and performs the duty incidental to off-shore soundings 
during' the winter season, can become inefficient as an officer of the 

A* I think an officer commanding a surveying schooner would 
be in a school that would certainly make him a good seaman, pro- 
vided he is a person of ordinary intelligence, if his employment was 
continuous on our coast in the winter months. It would be about 
the best school that could be. 

Q. 7. State your opinion as to the effect of sea service on the 
Coast Survey upon an active, intelligent officer. 

A. I don't know anything about the Coast Survey. The opinion 
I expressed in my last answer is predicated simply upon the 
hypothesis of a person being kept constantly employed in a small 
vessel on the coast of America. 

Q. 8. From your knowledge of Lieutenant Maffitt personally, 
do you consider him an officer of intelligence and aptitude for the 
naval profession? 

A. My acquaintance professionally with Lieutenant Maffitt is 
very slight. He was for a few days attached to the schooner Wood- 
bury, under my command, but didn't go to sea with me. He was 
transferred from her to the V and alia, where he became an acting 
lieutenant. I met her frequently. The estimate I formed of his 
character was, that he was an exceedingly capable, active, and intel- 
ligent young officer. I have never been on service with him since. 
Q. 9. Would you feel any hesitation in having me ordered as 
first lieutenant to a frigate, or line-of-battle ship, commanded by 

A. I would not. 

The testimony of this witness is read over, and being correct, 
he is discharged. 

Mr. A. C. Rhind,* late of the Navy, a witness on the part of Lieu- 
tenant Maffitt, is called, and being sworn by the president, is exam- 
ined by Lieutenant Maffitt, as follows : 

Q. 1. Are you acquainted with Lieutenant Maffitt; if so, state 
when and under what circumstances ? 

A. I am acquainted with him, and have known him for the last 
seven years or more, intimately. I served under his command in 
various vessels for about four years. 

Q. 2. What is your opinion of Lieutenant Maffitt, mentally, 
morally, physically, and professionally? 

*Afterward a rear-admiral, U. S. Navy. 

154 The Life and Services of 

A. My opinion of Lieutenant Maffitt, derived from intimate 
social and official intercourse, is that he is thoroughly competent in 
all respects to perform any duty appertaining to his profession. 
Morally, he is irreproachable ; mentally, he has few superiors that 
I have met with in the service ; professionally, the same, and phys- 
ically, I know of nothing that impairs his efficiency in the slightest 

Q. 3. From your acquaintance with the professional efficiency 
of Lieutenant Maffitt, when serving with him, and your knowledge 
of the active sea service that he has constantly seen in the survey 
of the coast of the United States for the last fourteen years, would 
you now consider him an efficient officer for all the duties of a lieu- 
tenant in the Navy? 

A. Unquestionably. 

The testimony of this witness is read over, and being correct, he 

Whereupon the court adjournstomeetto-morrow at 10^2 o'clock 

A. M. 

Wednesday, July 8, 1857. 

10*^ o'clock A. M. 
The court met pursuant to adjournment — all the members and 
the judge-advocate are present. 

The record of yesterday's proceedings is read over. 
The judge-advocate here read in behalf of Lieutenant Maffitt, 
the following letter from the Navy Department, and the several 
depositions which follow : 

Navy Department, 
December 10, 1855. 
Sir : Your letter of the 30th ult. has been received. In reply to 
your interrogatory, I have to say that there is nothing on the rec- 
ords, as I am advised from the examination made, affecting your 
character as an officer or a gentleman. 

It is, perhaps, due to you also to inform you that the Department 
has received recently, from the Chamber of Commerce of Charles- 
ton, copies of complimentary resolutions in regard to yourself. 

(I send you a copy of the letter addressed to the Department by 
the president of the Chamber.) 

I am respectfully, your ob't serv't, 
J. C. Dobbin. 
Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, 

Com. C. Survey schr. Crawford. 

John Newland Maffitt 155 

Charleston Chamber of Commerce, 

Charleston, November 3, 1855. 
To the Honorable the Secretary of the Navy. 

Sir: In conformity with the instructions of the Charleston 
Chamber of Commerce, I have the honor of transmitting for your 
consideration the accompanying resolutions, passed at a meeting 
held on the 29th ult., in reference to the action of the Naval Retir- 
ing Board in the case of Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, attached to the Coast 
Survey. In performing this duty, it will not, I trust, be deemed 
out of place or improper to express the opinion that these proceed- 
ings represent the feelings and wishes of a very large portion of 
the citizens of Charleston. Many of us are personally cognizant of 
the unwearied zeal and fidelity with which Lieutenant Maffitt prose- 
cuted the labors that were intrusted to him in our harbor, and our 
community feels grateful for the benefit to their commerce and 
navigation which has resulted from them. 

While the Chamber does not wish to be understood as impugn- 
ing the motives of the honorable gentlemen who constituted the 
Naval Retiring Board, in the case of Lieutenant Maffitt, we must 
be permitted to express, and respectfully claim the privilege of 
making known to you, the warm sympathy of the Chamber in his 
misfortune, and the regret that is felt that an officer so useful to 
his country and so full of promise, should be placed in a position 
to be deprived of all future advancement in the distinguished serv- 
ice to which he has, with so much zeal and activity, devoted his life. 

In the hopes that the action of the Chamber will serve to 
strengthen the claims of Lieutenant Maffitt to your favorable con- 

I have the honor to be, with the highest respect, 

Your ob't serv't, 
H. Gourdin, 
Presd't Charleston Chamber of Commerce. 

I certify that the foregoing is a true copy from the records of 
this Department. 

(Signed) Charles W. Welsh, 

Chief Clerk. 
Navy Department, July 6, 1857. 

Chamber of Commerce, 
Charleston, South Carolina. 
At the quarterly meeting of the Chamber of Commerce, held 
October 29, 1855, the following preamble and resolutions were 
unanimously adopted : 

156 The Life and Services of 

"Whereas, the Board of Naval Officers recently convened at 
Washing-ton, to pass upon the qualifications and efficiency of the 
officers of the Navy, have placed upon the retired or furloughed 
list Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, attached to the Coast Survey, thereby 
depriving- the country of his services in an important sphere of 
duty, in which he has already a high reputation for ability and 
success ; 

"And, zvhereas, it is incumbent and proper that this Chamber, 
representing as it does the commercial interests of Charleston, 
which have been so greatly benefited by the labors of Lieut. J. N. 
Maffitt, should give expression to their sense of the estimation in 
which he is held, and of the detriment which his removal must 
occasion to the public service in which he has so greatly distin- 
guished himself; therefore, 

"Resolved, That the Charleston Chamber of Commerce has 
heard with great regret of the action of the Naval Board in retiring 
Lieut. J. N. Maffitt from active service ; and can only attribute its 
action to a mistaken sense of duty on the part of its members, or to 
erroneous impressions of the ability and usefulness of Lieutenant 

"Resolved, That Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, by his long, active, and 
arduous services on our coast and in our harbor, resulting in the 
discovery of an important avenue to the commerce and navigation 
of our city, has entitled him to the regard and gratitude of our 
community, while his personal qualities and deportment have made 
him friends of all with whom he has been brought into personal or 
professional intercourse. 

"Resolved, That we tender to Lieutenant Maffitt the assurance 
of our undiminished confidence and respect, and indulge the hope 
that Congress will promptly restore him to the profession in which 
he has already secured so distinguished a position, by his attain- 
ments and services. 

"Resolved, That these proceedings be published in the city 
papers, and that copies thereof be transmitted to the President of 
the United States, the Secretary of the Navy, the Secretary of the 
Treasury, and the Superintendent of the Coast Survey." 

From the minutes. 

V. J. Tobias, 
Secy of Chamber of Commerce. 

I certify that the foregoing is a true copy from the records of 
this Department. 

Charles W. Welsh, 

July 6, 1857. Chief Clerk. 

John Newland Maffitt 157 

Mobile, May 15, 1857. 

Answers to interrogatories made in writing bv Lieut. Comdg. 
J. N. Maffitt, U. S. N., to R. W. Shufeldt, late a 'lieutenant of the 
U. S. Navy, and attested by him before a justice of the peace for 
the city of Mobile, May 15, 1857: 

O. 1. Do you know Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, and have you 
ever been associated with him on duty ? 

A. I do know, and have been associated with him. 

O. 2. State when and under what circumstances you served 
with Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt ? 

A. I served under him as lieutenant commanding the U. S. sur- 
veying schooner Morris, engaged on the survey of Nantucket So. 
Shoals, under the general superintendence of the then Lieut. 
Comdg. C. H. Davis, U. S. N., and subsequently he himself in 
charge of the party, for the survey of Charleston Harbor, South 
Carolina, and the adjacent coasts and harbors. I was under his 
command, I think, a year and more — during 1848, '49 and '50. 

O. 3. What was your opinion of his abilities and various qualifi- 
cations as a lieutenant in the Navy ? 

A. My opinion of Lieutenant Maffitt as an officer was always 
the same, both during my association with him and before and 
after, in casual but frequent intercourse. I regarded him as one 
of the rising men of the service — in every respect, in my opinion, 
a thorough naval officer. 

Q. 4. What was his reputation at the time of your service with 

A. His reputation as an officer was, as far as I ever knew, 
unblemished — as a hydrographer, in my opinion, deservedly high. 

O. 5. Was Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt zealous in the perform- 
ance of his duties — mindful of the Government interest, and 
acceptable as an associate? 

A. He was particularly zealous in the performance of the duty 
upon which we were engaged — evinced a constant and watchful 
economy in the expenditure of the Government money and time. 
As an associate, I can only say that I remember, as one of the 
brightest episodes of my naval life, the period I served on board 
the U. S. surveying schooner Morris, Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt. 
(Signed) R. W. Shufeldt, 

Late Lieutenant, U. S. Navy. 

Subscribed and sworn to before me this May 18, 1857. 

(Signed) William Brooks, 

Justice Peace, M. A. 

158 The Life and Services of 

Agreed to be received in evidence. 

(Signed) J. M. Carlisle, 


U. S. Steam Frigate "Niagara/' 
New York Harb., April 22, 1857. 
Lieut. J. N. Maffitt. 

Dear Sir : I send you the following replies to the questions, 
copied below, according to your request : 

Q. 1. How long have you known J. N. Maffitt, and have you 
sailed under his command? 

A. I have been intimately connected with J. N. Maffitt for the 
last four years — two of which I was under his immediate command 
in Coast Survey vessels, a steamer and schooner. 

Q. 2. What is his character for efficiency in all respects for his 
profession, mentally, morally, physically, and professionally? 

A. I have sailed with J. N. M. under some very trying circum- 
stances to a sailor, in all of which he displayed ready professional 
ability, and all the requisites of a good officer. I consider his capa- 
bilities, under all the heads of the above question, of the highest 

O. 3. Has he not at all times during your association with him, 
displayed zeal, industry, and interest in his profession ? 

A. During our association together he has always displayed the 
most untiring zeal and industry in the discharge of all duties, com- 
bining with them a readiness to overcome obstacles which always 
insured success. He has always expressed interest and a becom- 
ing pride in the profession to which he belonged. 

To all of the above, I am willing to make my affidavit, if called 
upon. Respectfully, 

(Signed) Wm. D. Whiting, 

Lieutenant, U. S. Navy. 

Agreed to be received in evidence, Mr. Whiting being out of the 
country on duty. 

(Signed) J. M. Carlisle, 


22d June, 1857. 


I the undersigned do certify as follows : 

That I served with Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. N., from October, 
1848, to December, 1849, an< ^ from J une > l8 5 2 > to February, 1855, 

John Newland Maffitt 159 

most of which time I was under his immediate command and so 
closely associated with him as to have had a good opportunity to 
form a just estimate of his character and talents ; 

That I am firmly convinced that Lieutenant Maffitt is a worthy, 
able, and efficient officer, possessing rare energies, a peculiar tact 
in disciplining men, extensive information in his profession, and 
that he is fully capable and reliable in the discharge of all the 
duties appertaining to a lieutenant in the Navy, both ashore and 
afloat ; 

That I believe said Lieutenant Maffitt to be in all respects a pure 
and honorable gentleman. 

(Signed) J. Pembroke Jones, 

Lieutenant, U. S. Navy. 

United States Consulate, Spezia, Sardinia, 

April 28, 1857. 
Be it remembered, that J. Pembroke Jones, Esquire, lieutenant 
of the U. S. Navy, personally appeared before me, Robert H. 
Leese, Consul of the United States, at Spezia, Sardinia, the day and 
year above written ; being duly sworn according to law, declared 
the above to be his true and solemn affidavit. In testimony 
whereof, I have hereunto, this twenty-eighth day of April, one 
thousand eight hundred and fifty-seven 

:L. S. : Set my hand and seal of office. 

(Signed) Robert H. Leese, 


Agreed to be received in evidence, Lieutenant Jones being on 
duty out of the country. 

(Signed) J. M. Carlisle, 

Judge-Advocate in general charge, etc. 
Washington, 22d June, 1857. 

Questions proposed to B. G. Heriot, Esq., Acting Navy Agent, 
Charleston, S. C, by Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. N., with replies 
thereof : 

Q. 1. What office do you fill under the Government? 

A. I hold none under the Government. My father, Maj. B. D. 
Heriot, is the Navy Agent and Acting Purser at this post, and I 
act as his clerk. 

Q. 2. Do you know Lieut. J. N. Maffitt? State how long and 
under what circumstances? 

160 The Life and Services of 

A. I know Lieutenant Maffitt — have known him since about 
the year 1849 — ^ e having been in command of different vessels 
engaged in the Coast Survey, and the accounts of the vessels being 
kept by my father as Acting Purser of this station, by order of the 
Navy Department. 

Q. 3. From your personal knowledge of Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, 
what is your opinion of him as an officer and a gentleman ? 

A. From the duty I have had to perform in connection with the 
office, I have been thrown much into association with Lieutenant 
Maffitt, and the intercourse between us has always been marked, 
on the part of Lieutenant Maffitt, with the utmost kindness and 
good feeling. I have ever entertained toward him feelings of the 
highest esteem as an officer, and personal regard as a gentleman. 

Q. 4. Have you not always found Lieut. J. N. Maffitt prompt 
and particular in discharge of duties connected with your office ? 

A. During the long personal intercourse in connection with the 
duties of the office, I have always found Lieutenant Maffitt prompt 
and particular in the discharge of his duties — so much so, as fre- 
quently to surprise me that a naval officer not educated as a busi- 
ness man should prove so efficient in the transaction of business 
not in the line of his profession. 

(Signed) Benj. G. Heriot. 

Sworn to, and subscribed before me this 30th day of June, 1857. 
(Signed) Edwin Heriot, 

Not. Pub., Charleston District. 

Cross-examination waived. 

(Signed) J. M. Carlisle, 

Judge-Advocate in general charge, etc. 

The State of South Carolina, Charleston District: 

Office of Common Pleas and General Sessions. 
I, Daniel Horlbeck, clerk of said court, do hereby certify, that 
Edwin Heriot, whose genuine signature appears within, is, and 
was at the time of signing the same, notary public, duly authorized 
and qualified to administer oaths and take acknowledgments ; that 
his attestation is in due form of law ; that full faith and credit are 
to be given thereunto ; that said court is a court of general record 
and jurisdiction, having a seal. 

Witness my hand and seal of said court at Charles- 

: L. S. : ton, this second day of July, A. D. 1857. 

(Signed) Dan'l Horlbeck, 

C. G. S. andC.'P. 

John Newland Maffitt 161 

Interrogatories propounded, and replied to, by Hon. E. C. An- 
derson, of Savannah, Georgia : 

O. i. Were you ever an officer of the U. S. Navy ; if yea, state 
when, and your term of service ? 

Reply. I was an officer of the U. S. Navy from November, 1833, 
to October, 1850, a period of over sixteen years. 

Q. 2. Are you acquainted with Lieut. John N. Maffitt ; if yea, 
state when, where, and under what circumstances? 

Reply. I am acquainted with Lieut. John N. Maffitt, having 
served with him on board the St. Louis, on the West India Sta- 
tion, in 1833-34; afterward in the frigate Constitution in the Medi- 
terranean, during the years 1835, '36 and '37. Subsequently we 
were associated together in the West India Squadron under 
Commo. W. B. Shubrick, in 1839, and again on the U. S. Coast 
Survey, up to my disconnection from the naval service. 

Q. 3. Did you consider Lieutenant Maffitt adapted to the naval 
service, and an active and efficient officer? 

Reply. I considered Lieutenant Maffitt as peculiarly adapted 
to the naval service, and an active, highly efficient officer. 

Q. 4. Is Lieutenant Maffitt, from your personal knowledge and 
belief, morally, mentally, physically, and professionally, fitted for 
the active list of the Navy? 

Reply. I believe Lieut. Jno. N. Maffitt to be morally, mentally, 
physically, and professionally, fitted for the active list of the 

(Signed) Edw'd C. Anderson. 

Personally appeared Edward C. Anderson, the above-named 
witness, to me well known, who, being duly sworn, deposeth and 
saith that the foregoing answers to the several interrogatories pro- 
pounded are true to the best of his knowledge and belief. 

Sworn to and subscribed before me at Savannah, Georgia, this 
June 16, 1857. 

(Signed) George A. Gordon, 

Notary Public, and U. S. Attorney for the District of Georgia. 
The Judge-Advocate waives any cross-examination. 

(Signed) J. M. Carlisle, 

Judge-Advocate, etc., etc. 

Questions propounded to Prof. A. D. Bache, LL. D., Superin- 
tendent, U. S. Coast Survey : 

Q. 1. What is your position under the Government, and how 
long have you occupied that position? 

162 The Life and Services of 

A. I am Superintendent of the U. S. Coast Survey, and have 
held that position since the death of F. R. Hassler, the first Super- 
intendent, say since December, 1843. 

O. 2. Do you know Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. N. ? 

A. I know Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. N., very well. 

Q. 3. How long, and in what capacities has he served in the 
work under your superintendence ? 

A. Lieut. Maffitt was attached to the Coast Survey when I took 
charge of it, serving in the hydrographic party of Lieut. Comdg. 
Geo. S. Blake, U. S. N. He afterward served in the hydrographic 
party of Lieut. Comdg. W. P. McArthur, U. S. N., then in that 
of Lieut. Comdg. Charles H. Davis, U. S. N. Was appointed chief 
of a hydrographic party February 8, 1848, and has since served in 
that capacity. He has usually, but not always, had charge of a 
separate vessel in these parties, when he was not chief. Has com- 
manded sailing vessels and a steamer. 

0. 4. Have you had frequent, and personal opportunities of 
forming an estimate of his official and personal character? 

A. I have had very frequent personal opportunities of forming 
an estimate of his official and personal character, — opportunities 
so frequent, so close, and extending over such a long period of 
time, that as far as I am capable of forming a judgment of a 
man's character, I know Mr. Maffitt's. My first acquaintance 
with him was entirely official, and I judged of him as a stranger 
to me. 

O. 5. State your opinion of his professional capacity, zeal, and 
efficiency, and your estimation of his character as an officer and a 

A. I hold his professional capacity and efficiency in the highest 
respect. As a surveying officer he has not been excelled by any 
one with whom I have come in contact, and has been equaled by 
few. The quantity and quality of his work are remarkable indeed. 
His vessel has always been a model of efficiency and neatness — 
his surveying expenditures always amongst the smallest — his work 
has been upon the most dangerous parts of the coast, and he has 
encountered the dangers without shrinking, and has always drawn 
his command out of them with great success. I append the copy 
of a letter,* showing one of these cases, and his mode of manag- 
ing it. 

The steamer Legate, when in a most perilous condition in the 
Gulf Stream, was" saved and brought into port, mainly by the 

*The judge-advocate objects to this letter as being irrelevant. 

John Newland Maffitt 163 

energy, knowledge, and promptness of Lieutenant Commanding 
Maffitt, seconded by an excellent set of officers. The good dis- 
cipline of his crew was shown under circumstances of severe trial. 

His zeal has led him to work winter and summer, merely chang- 
ing his locality, and he has succeeded in carrying on office work, 
and work afloat, at the same time, which is done by few officers, — 
requiring high executive capacity. 

As Superintendent of the Coast Survey, I cannot speak too 
highly of the capacity, efficiency, and zeal of Lieutenant Maffitt. 

His character as an officer and a gentleman stands with me 
among the first. 

0. 6. Has he not always displayed a promptness in the discharge 
of any duties entrusted to him ? 

A. My answer to this question is implied in that to the last, as 
I consider promptness in the discharge of duty one of the highest 
qualifications ; but I reply directly to the question — that Lieutenant 
Maffitt has, on all occasions, shown great promptness in the execu- 
tion of duty. 

Q. 7. Has he ever shown any disposition, directly or indirectly, 
to evade any orders from either Department of the Government 
under which he serves ? 

A. I have no knowledge of any case of the sort. He has been 
distinguished upon the Coast Survey for willingness to work, 
without regard to season, place, nature of duty, character of vessel, 
or personal comfort. 

I have upon my own responsibility, and from grounds of public 
duty, intertered to prevent his detachment from the Coast Survey, 
not at his own solicitation, but in consequence of my conviction of 
duty to the work. His qualifications for this work are so peculiar, 
that I should not have felt justified in doing otherwise. 

The responsibility is mine, and not his, and the facts which I 
have stated on two or three different occasions to the Secretary 
of the Navy, have satisfied the head of the Department that Lieu- 
tenant Maffitt should be continued on the work. 

It is easy to see that leaning upon an assistant as I have upon 
Lieutenant Maffitt, always cheerfully co-operating with me in the 
work, I should, upon grounds of public interest and utility, have 
been very loth to permit his removal if I could prevent it. He is 
not responsible for this. I did not act for the gratification of 
Lieutenant Maffitt, but for what I thought the interest of the 
branch of service under my charge. 

Q. 8. Was he not an applicant for sea service in the line of his 
profession, and for orders to the seat of war early in 1847? 

164 The Life and Services of 

A. He was to my certain knowledge. I had a conversation with 
the Secretary of the Navy upon the subject, in which he agreed 
that as the war was not likely to be a maritime one, he would not 
be justified in acceding to this request at that time. The idea 
was to wait and see if it was necessary to sacrifice the interests 
of the Coast Survey before doing so. 

Q. 9. Did he not reiterate the application and volunteer for the 
projected expedition of Lieut. Richard Bache to the seat of war? 

A. Yes ; and had that expedition come off, I understood that he 
was to be one of the officers to be accepted for it. 

Q. 10. Has he not at other times evinced a desire to apply for 
orders, for the sea service of the line of the Navy ? 

A. At various times. I have found it necessary to urge Lieu- 
tenant Maffitt to remain upon the Coast Survey, when he evinced a 
disposition to leave it for other service. I thought him so pecu- 
liarly qualified for this work that it was the best interest of the 
Government that he should remain upon it. 

O. 11. Have you not had since filling the position you now 
occupy, numbers of naval officers of various grades of rank, serving 
on the work under your superintendence ? 

A. Quite a considerable number of officers have served upon the 
Coast Survey during the period of my superintendence. 

O. 12. Have you not had, consequently, favorable opportunity 
of forming opinions as to professional capacity and character ? 

A. Of the chiefs of hydrographic parties, I have had very favor- 
able opportunities of forming opinions of professional capacity 
and character — less of course of the other officers. 

Q. 13. From the opportunities afforded you by constant asso- 
ciation with Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, state your opinion of his fitness 
for the naval service, morally, mentally, physically and profes- 
sionally ? 

A. From the abundant opportunities which I have had by con- 
stant association with Lieutenant Maffitt, personally and officially, 
for more than ten years, he is to the best of my judgment emi- 
nently fitted for the naval service, mentally, morally, physically, 
and professionally. 

(Signed) A. D. Bache. 

Sworn and subscribed, this 6th of July, 1857, before me, a justice 
of peace in and for Washington County, D. C. 

(Signed) John D. Clark, J. P. 

Cross-interrogatories by judge-advocate: 

Q. 1. If you state your opinion of Lieutenant Maffitt's profes- 
sional capacity, in answer to the 5th interrogatory in chief, be 
pleased to state what "profession" you refer to? 

John Newland Maffitt 165 

A. The naval profession. 

O. 2. If in answer to the foregoing interrogatory, you say you 
refer to his profession as a naval officer, be pleased to state if you 
were ever in the naval service; and, if not, in what manner and 
under what circumstances you became sufficiently acquainted with 
that profession to enable you to judge of his professional qualifi- 
cations ? 

A. Though not in the naval service, I have been intimately asso- 
ciated with its officers, ashore and afloat, under a great variety of 
circumstances, from my boyhood until this day. Especially as 
Superintendent of the Coast Survey for the last thirteen years, and 
as a member of the temporary, and of the permanent Light-House 
Board, I have been in the closest relations, personal and official, 
with officers of various rank in our Navy, and have been a close 
observer of the qualities which give distinction to the profession. 

I submit that it does not, as this question implies, require a man 
to be of a profession in order to judge of its members. The his- 
torian who assigns professional reputation to army and navy 
officers is neither a soldier nor a sailor. The Secretary of the Navy, 
who is the highest judge of naval efficiency, is a civilian. The 
captain who judges of the efficiency of his engineers is a naval 
officer, and not an engineer. 

I have had the most ample opportunities of judging of the 
qualifications, as sailors, as disciplinarians, as navigators, as hy- 
drographers. as men of courage, and coolness in danger, and firm- 
ness under trials — of very many naval officers under my direction. 

In the case of Lieutenant Maffitt I have had the best possible 
opportunities of knowing his qualities in all these respects. Time 
and again, in seasons of difficulty, he has shown himself the accom- 
plished sailor. His vessels have been remarkable for the efficiency 
of their discipline. 

As a navigator and pilot on our coast he is not excelled. The 
amount, accuracy, and economy, of his work as a hydrographer 
have not been exceeded on the Coast Survey. His courage, cool- 
ness, and firmness, have been over and again tried, and found 
equal to every emergency. 

Under Lieut. Comdg. Charles H. Davis he surveyed the dan- 
gerous region of the Nantucket Shoals, and Martin's Industry— 
which are amongst the most exposed parts of our coast. 

My judgment of Lieutenant Maffitt's qualities as a naval officer 
was fully sustained by that of his commanding officer, Lieut. C. H. 
Davis, as expressed to me both privately and officially, by that 
admirable officer. 

166 The Life and Services of 

O. 1. If to the 7th interrogatory in chief, you answer that Mr. 
Maffitt never evinced any disposition to evade any orders of the 
Department, be pleased to state if you mean to say, he never 
made application to the Navy Department to avoid its orders. 

A. None that I am aware of. 

O. 4. If you answer the 8th, 9th, and 10th interrogatories-in- 
chief in the affirmative, please state how he applied, whether in 
writing, and to whom ? 

A. In writing to the Secretary of the Navy, Hon. George Ban- 
croft. Through me, orally, to the same officer. (8th interrog.) 

In writing and personally. (9th interrog.) 

Q. 5. In reference to the 10th interrogatory, please state in 
what manner he evinced a desire for sea service in the line of the 
Navy ? 

A. He requested me to allow him to go with Commander Par- 
ker, which I declined. To go to the Gulf also. I considered him 
so valuable to the Coast Survey, that I objected to his leaving it 
unless he was peremptorily ordered. The Secretaries of the Navy 
to whom I have stated my positions, acquiesced in them, so that no 
other order was ever given detaching Lieutenant Maffitt from the 
Coast Survey. Among these I remember particularly, Mr. 
Mason, Mr. Preston, and Mr. Dobbin. The latter has expressed 
to me the opinion that Lieutenant Maffitt was, in the absence of 
special exigency, best serving his Government by remaining on 
the Coast Survey. This it should be remembered is one of the 
services required by law of the naval officer. 

O. 6. Please state any other fact or circumstance within your 
knowledge, touching the issue under investigation, as fully as if 
you were specially interrogated in reference thereto. 

A. As my memory runs over Lieutenant Maffitt's career, under 
my superintendence (in obedience to the last interrogatory), I see 
in its general features, and particular details, everything to con- 
firm the judgment of the late Secretary of the Navy, who restored 
him to command, and to stamp him as deserving the highest con- 
sideration of the court whom I have the honor to address, in a 
restoration to the full honors of the Naval profession. 

(Signed) A. D. Bache. 

(Signed) C. H. Winder, 


Sworn and subscribed before me this 6th July, 1857. 

(Signed) John D. Clark, 

J. Peace. 

John Newland Maffitt 167 

Questions proposed to Commo. J. D. Wilkinson, U. S. Navy, 
by Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. N., to be submitted with replies to 
the Naval Court of Inquiry : 

Q. i. What is your rank in the Navy? 

A. Captain. 

Q. 2. Do you know Lieut. J. N. Maffitt; how long have you 
known him and under what circumstances? 

A. I knew him in the latter part of '40 and first part of '42. He 
was the sailing - master of the Macedonian, my flag-ship, and also 
acting lieutenant on board of that vessel. 

Q. 3. When he was sailing master, and acting lieutenant on 
board the U. S. ship Macedonian, flag-ship of the Home Squadron 
in 1840, 1841 and 1842, what was your opinion of his abilities as 
an officer, and character as a gentleman? 

A. I considered him a first-rate officer and gentleman. 

Q. 4. From your knowledge of Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, do you 
consider him fitted for the active list of the Navy, mentally, mor- 
ally, physically and professionally? 

A. I do, perfectly so. 

(Signed) J. Wilkinson, 

Agreed to be received in evidence. 

Captain, U. S. N. 

J. M. Carlisle, 

Questions proposed to the Hon. J. C. Dobbin, late Secretary of 
the Navy: 

Q. 1. Do you know Lieut. J. N. Maffitt? 

Q. 2. What is your opinion of Lieut. J. N. Maffitt as an officer 
and a gentleman? 

Q. 3. Did you not in August, 1856, express your determination 
to present his name to the President of the United States for nomi- 
nation to the Senate, for restoration to the active list of the Navy ? 

State of North Carolina, Cumberland County: 

The several answers of James C. Dobbin to the annexed inter- 
rogatories : 

To the first interrogatory he answereth "yes." 

To the second interrogatory answereth, and says, that he 
regards Lieut. J. N. Maffitt as an excellent and accomplished 
officer and a most estimable gentleman. 

To the third interrogatory he answereth "yes." 

(Signed) J. C. Dobbin. 

168 The Life and Services of 

James C. Dobbin, being- by me, a justice of the peace in and for 
the County of Cumberland, in the State of North Carolina, and 
ex-officio a commissioner of affidavits, duly sworn upon the Holy 
Evangelists of Almighty God, made oath that the above answers 
are true to the best of his knowledge and belief, and hath signed 
the same in my presence. 

(Signed) J. C. Dobbin. 

Sworn and subscribed before me, this the 3d day of July, 1857. 

(Signed) John H. Cook, J. P. 

Cross-examination waived. 

J. M. Carlisle, 
Judge-Advocate in general charge. 

Commo. J. H. Aulick, U. S. N., a witness on the part of Lieu- 
tenant Maffitt, is called, and being sworn by the president, is 
examined as follows : 

O. 1. Is it your opinion, as a naval officer, that Lieutenant Maf- 
fitt may be now fit for all the duties of his grade, he having seen 
about eight years' sea service on foreign stations, several years of 
which time he performed, efficiently, the duties of lieutenant and 
sailing master, and has for the last fourteen years been executive 
officer and in command of Government schooners on the coast of 
the United States, through all seasons of the year, commanding 
naval officers and naval men — and would you, as commander of a 
line-of-battle ship, have any objection to him as the first lieutenant 
of such a vessel? 

A. I certainly would not object to him. I don't think his 
experience of eight years could easily be forgotten. I should think 
that if he is an intelligent man, as I understand he is, with that 
experience he would be competent to the discharge of any duty on 
board of a ship-of-war. I would remark that, after I had been 
only five years in the Navy, I was the first lieutenant of a brig-of- 
war, and served as such for two years. 

The testimony of this witness is read over, and being correct, 
he is discharged. 

Commo. Chas. S. McCauley, U. S. N., a witness in behalf of 
Lieutenant Maffitt, is called, and beinq- sworn by the president, is 
examined by Lieutenant Maffitt, as follows : 

O. Is it your opinion, as a naval officer, that Lieutenant Maffitt 
may be now fit for all the duties of his grade, — he having seen 
about eight years' sea service on foreign stations, several years 
of which time, he performed efficiently the duties of lieutenant 
and sailing master, and has, for the last fifteen years been executive 

John Newland Maffitt 169 

officer, and in command of Government schooners on the coast of 
the United States, through all seasons of the year, commanding 
naval officers and naval men, — and would you, as commander of 
a line-of-battle ship, have any objection to him as first lieutenant 
of such a vessel? 

A. I have no personal knowledge of Lieutenant Maffitt; but 
from his general reputation, I answer to the first part of the ques- 
tion, that he is fit. I should have no objection to his being my 
first lieutenant, under any circumstances. 

Cross-examination by judge-advocate: 

Do you, as a captain in the Navy, believe that an officer who has 
only seen occasional duty as an acting lieutenant in the grade of 
passed midshipman, and who has never been on board a man-of- 
war as a lieutenant, or in any other capacity, for nearly fourteen 
years, is capable of going on board of a line-of-battle ship, and 
efficiently and properly station and discipline a crew, and fully 
prepare that ship to encounter an enemy of like force ; and would 
you, as a captain in the Navy, be willing to take such an officer 
as your first lieutenant, with an assurance that you were to meet 
an enemy in battle ? 

A. I don't think that an officer who has served a regular appren- 
ticeship on board a man-of-war, for seven or eight years, and who 
has gone on board a surveying vessel, can become disqualified 
for the naval service — on the contrary, I think it is a better 
school than a man-of-war, in some particulars. In these vessels 
he is always on the coast, and on board a man-of-war he goes out 
to sea, where there is nothing but the weather to watch. Whereas, 
on the coast, you have to be on the constant alert for rocks, shoals, 
and the land— besides that the danger of collisions is increased, 
and the officer has to exercise a constant vigilance. I would be 
willing to take such a man as my first lieutenant under the circum- 
stances described in the question. What I mean to say is, that an 
officer serving on the Coast Survey is not disqualified for the 
Navy, unless he abandons the Navy altogether. They must have 
some one to do that duty, and I believe they always take the best 
officers for it. 

The testimony of this witness is read over, and being correct, he 

Lieut. C. R. P. Rogers, U. S. Navy, a witness sworn yesterday 
and examined in behalf of Lieutenant Maffitt, is recalled, and 
further examined by Lieutenant Maffitt as follows : 

170 The Life and Services of 

Q. I. When you were associated with Lieutenant Maffitt, was he 
not part of the time first lieutenant, and a greater part of the period 
in command of vessels ? 

A. He was both lieutenant and commander of vessels in the 
party to which I belonged. 

Q. 2. What was the condition of the vessels, and what the state 
of discipline? 

A. The condition of the vessels was very creditable. They were 
handled with skill, and in a manner which would have been con- 
sidered creditable on any station. The men were treated with kind- 
ness and a great amount of work was obtained from them. 

Q. 3. Did Lieutenant Maffitt exhibit any particular tact in the 
various duties belonging to his position, and ability in the com- 
mand of men ? 

A. I think he was very remarkable for tact in every duty that 
was assigned him. I think he had a great talent for commanding 
men. He was always solicitous, not only for their comfort, but 
their amusement — at the same time very rigid and invariable in 
exacting a very strict performance of their duty. 

O. 4. From your long acquaintance with Lieutenant Maffitt, 
what estimate have you formed of his character as an officer and 
a gentleman? 

A. I think him a very valuable officer. He has been my inti- 
mate friend and correspondent for many years, and our whole 
intercourse has inspired me with respect and affection. 

O. 5. How long have you been in the Navy, and what length 
of time have you served on board of ships of war ? 

A. I have been in the service between twenty-three and twenty- 
four years. I have seen between seventeen and eighteen years' 
sea service, and between fourteen and fifteen years on board of 
vessels of war, not Coast Survey vessels — as nearly as I can 

Q. 6. If Lieutenant Maffitt were appointed first lieutenant of 
a line-of-battle ship to-morrow, do you think he would be enabled 
to perform all the duties of that station? 

A. I know of no officer of the Navy — no lieutenant, I mean — 
who would better perform the duties of the first lieutenant of a 
line-of-battle ship. He has a rare, natural adaptation to the duties 
of the naval profession. I know him to be a skilful seaman — to 
have great tact in managing officers and men — to possess unusually 
quick intelligence — and has always manifested great interest in 
those branches of his profession, not in use in the Coast Survey. 

John Newland Maffitt 171 

Cross-examined by the judge-advocate: 

Q. I. Have there been any improvements and progress in the 
naval profession for sixteen years ? 

A. There have been great improvements for the past sixteen 

O. 2. Are any of those improvements of a character to require 
a practical connection with them, to enable an officer to under- 
stand them, so that he can apply them properly and effectively ? 

A. I think there are, to a certain degree. 

Q. 3. Are they of sufficient importance to render it indispens- 
able that an officer should not only have a theoretical knowledge 
of them, but that he should have such a practical experience in 
regard to them, as to enable him to apply them most effectively 
to their legitimate use ? 

A. The greatest changes of which I am aware, are those arising 
from the new methods of governing men, and from the introduc- 
tion of new kinds of ordnance. A practical knowledge is highly 
desirable, but not absolutely necessary, more especially in matters 
of ordnance. Knowledge of ordnance is, in a great measure, drawn 
from books, which any intelligent man may acquire. 

Q. 4. You do not, then, deem it absolutely necessary that a naval 
officer, to keep up with the advance of his profession, should prac- 
tically observe, and use the improvements in actual service ? 

A. I think that he should practically observe these improve- 
ments. Much of this knowledge may be drawn from books and 
conversation, without service on board ship. I think a knowledge 
of ordnance is, in a great measure, to be drawn from books, and 
from conversation with experts. I think that a man with a naval 
education would readily adapt himself to these improvements. I 
think service in ships of war useful and important, but I do not 
think that an intelligent officer, on joining a ship, after being on 
shore for some time, finds any difficulty in adapting himself to 
any improvements he may find introduced since his last service 

Examination-in-chief resumed. 

O. Do you think that the practical knowledge of gunnery, and 
the~changes under the present system, are familiar to all the lieu- 
tenants ; and would they not, as a general thing, have to prepare 
themselves in that respect, after being ordered to a ship, while 
teaching the men their duties ? 

A. Some changes in the armament of ships are very recent. I 
think there are lieutenants in the Navy who would be obliged to 
seek information in regard to this new armament, in reference to 
its use and control. 

172 The Life and Services of 

The testimony of this witness is read over, and being correct, he 
is discharged. 

Commo" S. H. String-ham, U. S. Navy, a witness on the part 
of the Government, is called, and being sworn, is examined by 
the judo-e-advocate as follows : 

Q. i. What rank do you hold in the Navy, and how long have 
you been in the service? 

A. I am a captain, and have been in the service forty-seven 

Q. 2. From your knowledge and experience as a naval officer, 
do^you believe that an officer who has seen no other service on 
board a man-of-war as a lieutenant than occasionally acting as 
such, while in the grade of passed midshipman, and who has not 
been to sea on board a man-of-war, in any capacity, for nearly 
fourteen years — is competent to all the duties of a lieutenant, par- 
ticularly those of first lieutenant of a frigate ? 

A. I don't believe that any man, in any profession, who leaves 
that profession for sixteen years, and then returns to it, is as com- 
petent as if he had continued its practice. I believe a man who 
has been engaged in surveying for sixteen years is a better sur- 
veyor at the end of that time than he was at the beginning. It is 
clear to me that unless a man continues in the practice of his pro- 
fession he must necessarily lose, in some degree, his knowledge 
of it. 

Q. 3. Would you be willing to take, as your first lieutenant of a 
frigate, on service of exigency, a person described in the next 
foregoing question ? 

A. I am like other captains in the Navy. They prefer officers 
of experience. I would select an officer of experience. 

Cross-examined by Lieutenant Maffitt: 

Q. Is it your opinion, as a naval officer, that Lieutenant Maf- 
fitt may now be fit for all the duties of his grade, he having 
seen about eight years' sea service on foreign stations, several 
years of which time he performed, efficiently, the duties of lieu- 
tenant and sailing master — and having for the last fifteen years 
been executive officer, and in command of Government schooners 
on the coast of the United States through all seasons of the year, 
commanding naval officers and naval men? 

A. I have no doubt, as he passed his examination, he was com- 
petent to the duties of a lieutenant ; and if he has constantly been 
to sea he may still be so. But he would certainly be more com- 
petent had he seen sea service on board a man-of-war. 

John Newland Maffitt 173 

The testimony of this witness is read over, and being correct, he 
is discharged. 

Commo. Isaac Mayo, U. S. N., a witness in behalf of Lieutenant 
Maffitt, is called, and being sworn by the president, is examined 
as follows, by Mr. Maffitt : 

Q. i. What is your rank, and how long have you been in the 
service ? 

A. I am a captain, and have been in the service forty-eight 

Q. 2. Is it your opinion as a naval officer, that Lieutenant Maf- 
fitt may be now fit for all the duties of his grade — he having seen 
about eight years' sea service on foreign stations, part of which 
time he performed efficiently the duties of acting lieutenant, and 
sailing master, and has for the last fourteen years been executive 
officer, and in command of Government schooners on the coast of 
the United States, through all seasons of the year, commanding 
naval officers and naval men — and would you, as commander of a 
line-of-battle ship, have any objections to him as the first lieutenant 
of such vessel? 

A. I should say I would take him almost as soon as any officer 
that I know so little of. 

The testimony of this witness is read over, and being correct, 
he retires. 

Here the case being closed on the part of the Government and 
Lieutenant Maffitt, he asked the court to allow him till 12 o'clock 
to-morrow to prepare a paper for the consideration of the court. 
Whereupon the court adjourned to meet to-morrow, Thursday, 
9th July, at 12 o'clock a. m. 


Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Court: 

While employed in active service in command of a hydrographic 
party of the Coast Survey, I received through the public prints the 
announcement, that my name had been placed on the "Furlough 
List" by a board of fifteen officers, ordered to assemble under the 
Act of Congress, of March 2, 1855, and directed to report to the 
Secretary of the Navy the names and rank of all officers who, in 
their judgment, were found incapable of performing, promptly 
and efficiently, all their duty ashore and afloat. 

Engaged in the active discharge of the duties of my position 
and profession, I had felt secure in the consciousness of having at 
all times faithfully, promptly, and efficiently, performed my duties 

174 The Life and Services of 

ashore and afloat, that I was beyond the reach of any legislation 
on the subject of the efficiency of the Navy. I was aware that a 
prejudice existed in the minds of some officers against the special 
service in which I was engaged, but I little imagined that I was 
to be made the peculiar mark of their disapprobation ; such, how- 
ever, seems to be the fact ; for it appears now, after a long and 
anxious interval of uncertainty, that the only charge on which my 
furlough was grounded, was that of my continued service on the 
Coast Survey. 

It is not my purpose to comment on the misapplication and 
misconstruction of that unfortunately loose law of March 2, 1855, 
or to animadvert on the conduct or motives of those in whose 
hands were placed the safety and the honor of all their brother 
officers ; but I ask your attention to a brief survey of the evidence 
offered in my case for your guidance, satisfied that it will be 
weighed with impartiality. 

The first of the few witnesses called on the part of the Govern- 
ment, to establish the imaginary point of incapability on my part 
to perform at once, if called on, the executive duties of a ship-of- 
war, was Capt. Samuel Mercer. The proposition of the judge- 
advocate, to rest my case on the records of the Navy Department, 
having been respectfully declined, and this witness appearing, he 
was called on to support, by his opinion as an "expert," the posi- 
tion assumed against me. From the evidence of this officer, it 
appears that during a continuance of forty-two years in the Navy 
he had never at any time performed duty on the peculiar service, 
on the merits of which he was called upon to pronounce an opinion. 
Ignorant of its details, unaware of the rules, or manner of regu- 
lating the management of the vessels or crew, totally unacquainted 
with my professional capacity, he ventured an opinion that I was 
incapable at this time of performing efficiently the duties of an 
executive officer, and did me the favor to say that he would not 
trust me in charge of a ship in critical situations, and could not 
have confidence in me as a first lieutenant. To support the con- 
clusions he had arrived at, it was admitted by him that during a 
respite from service of five or six years, he found himself at a loss 
to perform the duty of lieutenant ; but in reply to my question, 
"Whether an observant and intelligent officer, having passed in 
active service in the line through the grades of acting master and 
acting lieutenant, and being continuously employed at sea for 
fourteen years in a Government vessel, could become incompe- 
tent?" He admitted that he did not think so. 

John Newland Maffitt 175 

I respectfully submit to the court, whether, because this officer 
found himself inefficient, after a lapse of five or six years on shore, 
it is fair to judge me by the same standard, since it cannot be made 
to appear that during- my whole term of service I was at any time 
unemployed for more than five months, and during- the whole 
period of my separation from service in the line I have been 
actively engaged in an important branch of the naval profession. 

In opposition to the deductions of this officer, I beg leave to 
refer to the testimony of Capt. C. S. McCauley, an officer of 
acknowledged ability, and whose term of service has reached 
nearly half a century. 

This officer, free from the prejudices of the service against that 
branch of the profession in which I have been mostly employed, 
after reviewing my service in the line, and subsequent employment, 
stated very decidedly, "that he did not consider my efficiency at 
all impaired thereby, and that he would take an officer employed 
as I had been, as his first lieutenant without hesitation." For he 
justly considered the service on the coast a good school. 

The evidence of Captain Aulick, an officer of equal length of 
service with the last-named witness, fully sustained the opinions he 

Captain Nicholas, an officer of acknowledged professional abil- 
ity, states, "that he considers me decidedly fit for the active service 
of the Navy ; that the duty upon which I had been engaged would 
not incapacitate me, or render me inefficient ; that an officer com- 
manding a surveying vessel on the coast, was certainly in a good 
school for a seaman." 

Com. Arthur Sinclair, an officer of high standing and unblem- 
ished integrity, states that he has served with me on board the 
frigate Macedonian for fifteen or sixteen months, during which 
time I performed the duties of acting master and lieutenant, in 
charge of a watch and division ; that I was efficient as a navigator 
and officer, and that he considers me now qualified, in all respects, 
for the naval service. 

Lieut. C. R. P. Rogers, an officer with whom I have been inti- 
mately associated since 1840, and who has himself seen fifteen 
years of active service on foreign stations, and has also com- 
manded a hydrographic party on the Coast Survey, rendering him 
fully competent in all professional points — states that he has 
known me, both as first lieutenant and commanding officer, in the 
party to which he was attached ; that the condition of the vessels 
was very creditable; that they were handled with skill, and in a 
manner that would have been considered creditable on any sta- 

176 The Life and Services of 

tion — their discipline was excellent, etc. ; that from his knowledge 
of me, based upon long association, he did not know an officer of 
my rank in the Navy who could perform the duties of a first lieu- 
tenant better. 

Lieut. T. A. M. Craven, an officer experienced on all subjects 
appertaining to his profession, and who has also commanded a 
hydrographic party on the Coast Survey, states that he considers 
me qualified for any duty in the Navy. 

Lieutenants Gwathmey, Mullany, Lanier and Moore, and other 
officers who have served with me, and known me well, testify with 
equal emphasis in favor of my fitness on all points for the naval 
service. And all who are familiar with the duties of the Coast 
Survey, deny that they in any manner impair an officer's efficiency 
for the regular service. 

In view of this charge, or pretext, against my fitness for the 
active duties of my profession, I have briefly to say, that the sur- 
vey of our coast was made, by law, one of the duties of officers of 
the Navy. And I might here pause to inquire, whether the Naval 
Board made it a part of their proceedings to investigate fully into 
the competency of the officers retained on the "Active List" to per- 
form the important duties of this branch of the service, to which I 
have been so long attached, and often against my wishes, as was 
proved by the affidavit of Prof. A. D. Bache, Superintendent of 
the Coast Survey — a gentleman who has won eminence and 
renown in the world of science ; whose esteem I shall ever cherish, 
and to whose testimony in my behalf I refer with pride and pleas- 
ure. Some allusion has been made to a possible want of knowl- 
edge on my part in the science of gunnery, which I very readily 
admit to be one of the most important branches of the naval pro- 
fession. Every man of intelligence knows that this science is, so 
to speak, in a transition state, and that a new and improved sys- 
tem is in course of adoption. Without pretending that I am 
equally informed with those officers who are actively and exclu- 
sively employed in research and experiment on this subject, I 
believe I might safely have submitted myself to this honorable 
court, as competent experts, for an examination on the system in 
which I have been educated, and which has not as yet been so 
materially altered, as to prevent my keeping pace with its improve- 

Allow me here to remark, that the question of the competency 
of officers, to do all their duty ashore and afloat, under the rule 
it has been attempted to apply in my case, might suggest graye 
and extensive doubts of officers whose entire competency I will 

John Newland Maffitt 177 

be the last to question. A glance at the Navy Register will show 
that a commander, long- engaged on special service, and who has 
rendered eminent service in the Ordnance Department, has, during 
a period of thirty years in the Navy, seen only seven years and 
two months' sea service, and that he has not been at sea since 1845. 
Yet this did not cause the Naval Board to put him on furlough, 
nor did it prevent the Department from recently appointing him to 
the command of a vessel engaged on important duty at sea. I may 
also refer to a captain who has seen nine years and seven months' 
sea service, out of thirty-nine years in the Navy, who has not been 
at sea since 1842, but who was advanced by the action of the 
Board, — as well as to another commander employed on special 
service, who, out of twenty-eight years and two months in the 
Navy, has seen but ten years and eight months' sea service, and 
a considerable part of that sea service on hydrographic duty on the 
Coast Survey. 

Without intending by these references to impeach in the slight- 
est degree the capacity of those officers to perform any duty con- 
nected with their profession, I respectfully call your attention to 
the marked distinction made in their favor. 

By an Act of Congress, approved June 17, 1844, it is provided 
that the officers of the Navy shall, as far as practicable, be em- 
ployed on the duties of the Coast Survey ; and by an Act approved 
March 3, 1849, the Secretary of the Navv is authorized to provide 
the requisite officers and crews for the Coast Survey. 

Thus it will be seen, as I have before stated, that the arduous, 
necessary, and (to our National commerce, as well as for the pur- 
poses of National defense) all important duties of the Coast 
Survey are devolved, by a law of Congress, upon officers of the 
Navy. Now I may be permitted to say, without the imputation 
of vanity, that a just performance of these duties demands, in 
addition to the usual information obtained in the naval service, 
some little scientific research ; but that such studies are calculated 
to unfit an officer for active service on board a vessel of war is a 
proposition to which I cannot subscribe. Congress could never 
have intended that officers detailed for a useful and honorable 
service, and required to perform extraordinary duties, should be 
degraded from the active list, and placed out of the line of pro- 
motion, else some provision would have been made to compensate 
them for the loss of that advancement, which is the hope and ambi- 
tion of every honorable man in the service; — or at least a choice 
would have been accorded to them, with a full knowledge of the 
consequences it involved. 

178 The Life and Services of 

I think it has been sufficiently evident to the court that there 
is no special reason, in my case, to suppose that the duties of the 
Coast Survey have unfitted me for my regular profession ; and the 
theorv that application to other studies than those incident to the 
ordinary requirements of my profession detracts from my effi- 
ciency, or negatives my information previously acquired, is one 
that can scarcely be received in this progressive age. That literary 
or scientific attainments unfit an officer for the full discharge of 
his duties in peace or war, is a proposition against which the pride 
of intellect revolts, and which enlightened judgment must con- 
demn. Such an idea will find no favor at this day or before this 

In conclusion, for I will not occupy the time of the court to 
combat the mere shadow which has been conjured up against me, 
I submit myself, Mr. President and gentlemen of the court, with 
confidence to your judgment. Against the action of the Naval 
Board, which would have made me, could I have quietly submitted 
to their decree (from which, however, the Secretary of the Navy 
in some measure relieved me, by continuing me on active duty), 
an idle and degraded pensioner on the Government, I respectfully 
but firmly protest, and with equal respect I aver upon the testi- 
mony which has been produced before this court, that / am fit 
for my profession, and ready at all times to perform any and all 
duties devolving upon me. 

Respectfully, etc., 
(Signed) J. N. Maffitt. 

Washington, July 9, 1857. 
My Dear Sir : I have received your letter of this day's date, 
requesting an answer to the following questions, viz : 

1. Have you any acquaintance with me; if so, when and where 
did you know me ? 

I have long been acquainted with you. I first knew you early 
in 1835. You sailed with me in the U. S. frigate Constitution, 
and in the U. S. schooner Shark, — in the former when I was one 
of her lieutenants, and in the latter, when I commanded her, for 
about three years. During the whole of that period, from Feb- 
ruary, 1835, to February, 1838, I found you a young officer of 
great intelligence, and one of the most prompt and active officers 
that I have met in the service. 

2. What is my character for efficiency? 
That of being efficient in every particular. 

3. With your acquaintance with me, in knowledge of my having 
been many years absent from naval service (but cruising in a Gov- 

John Newland Maffitt 179 

ernment schooner, officered and manned from the Navy, and 
under naval discipline and rule, engaged in surveying on the sea 
coast of the U. S.), would you be willing to have me as first lieu- 
tenant of a vessel under your command ? 

With my knowledge of your ability as a seaman, and your taste 
for the duties of an officer, I should be happy to have you as the 
first lieutenant of any ship I may command. 

I am with respect, 
(Signed) G. V. Pearson, 

Capt., U. S. Navy. 
Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, 
U. S. Navy. 

Questions proposed to Com. F. A. Neville, U. S. N., by J. N. 
Maffitt, lieutenant, U. S. N., and his replies, to be submitted to 
the Naval Court of Inquiry : 

Q. i. What is your rank in the Navy? 

A. Commander. 

O. 2. Do you know Lieut. J. N. Maffitt ? How long have you 
known him, and under what circumstances? 

A. My first knowledge of Lieut. J. N. Maffitt was as midship- 
man in the West India Squadron in 1833. 

O. 3. From your personal knowledge of Lieutenant Maffitt, 
what is your opinion of him as an officer and gentleman? 

A. When Lieut. J. N. Maffitt sailed with me in the frigate Con- 
stitution as a midshipman, and subsequently in the frigate Mace- 
donian as acting master, I had a very high appreciation of him as 
an officer and gentleman. 

O. 4. From your personal knowledge of Lieutenant Maffitt, do 
you consider him fitted for the active list of the Navy, mentally, 
morally, physically, and professionally? 

A. When associated on duty with Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, I certainly 
did think him, in every respect, fitted for the active list of the Navy, 
mentally, morally, physically, and professionally. 

Cross-examined by judge-advocate: 

Q. 1. Do you know whether Lieutenant Maffitt has ever done 
duty on board a man-of-war, since he was commissioned as a lieu- 
tenant in 1843? 

A. I do not. 

Q. 2. Do you know whether he has ever been at sea in a man- 
of-war, since 1841 ? 

A. I do not. 

180 The Life and Services of 

O. 3. Is it your opinion that an officer holding a commission as 
lieutenant for a period of fourteen years, and never having done 
duty at sea on board a man-of-war during all that period, would 
be competent to perform, promptly and efficiently, all his duty 
afloat, if now ordered, as first lieutenant or executive officer? 
A. Such is not my opinion. 

Q. 4. State any other matter within your knowledge, bearing 
on this inquiry. 

A. I can, with confidence, say that during the whole period of 
Lieut. J. N. Maffitt's service with me, I always considered him as 
a most promising, active, and intelligent officer, and eminently 
calculated for the naval service. 

(Signed) F. A. Neville, 

Commander, U. S. Navy. 
(Signed) J. M. Carlisle, 

Judge-Advocate, etc. 
Sworn and subscribed to, on July 10, A. D. 1857, before me. 
(Signed) Charles D. Freeman, 

Alderman and Justice of the Peace. 

Questions proposed to Lieut. Silas Bent, U. S. N., by Lieut. J. 
N. Maffitt, to be submitted, with replies, to the Naval Court of 
Inquiry : 

Q. 1. What is your rank in the Navy? 

A. A lieutenant. 

Q. 2. Do you know Lieut. J. N. Maffitt? State how long and 
under what circumstances? 

A. I have known Lieutenant Maffitt since 1842, and served with 
him on the Coast Survey for upwards of two years. 

O. 3. When serving with Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, what was your 
opinion of his capacity as an officer, and his character as a gentle- 

A. He was eminently efficient, of untiring energy and persever- 
ance, and was unexceptionable as a gentleman. 

O. 4. From your present personal knowledge of Lieut. J. N. 
Maffitt, do you consider him morally, mentally, physically, and 
professionally, fitted for the active service list of the Navy ? 

A. Entirely so. 

Cross-examination by the judge-advocate: 

Q. 1. Do you know whether Lieutenant Maffitt has ever done 
duty on board a man-of-war since he was commissioned as a lieu- 
tenant, in 1843? 

A. So far as my personal knowledge extends, I do not. 

John Newland Maffitt 181 

O. 2. Do you know whether he has been at sea in a man-of-war, 
since 1841 ? 

A. I do not. 

Q. 3. Is it your opinion that an officer holding a commission 
of lieutenant for a period of fourteen years, and never having 
done duty at sea on board a man-of-war during all that period, 
would be competent to perform, promptly and efficiently, all his 
duties afloat, if now ordered as first lieutenant and executive 

A. If the mind of the officer was entirely diverted from his pro- 
fession during that period of time, he would not ; but if his asso- 
ciations and pursuits were professional, he would. 

O. 4. If you shall have answered that you think such an officer 
would be competent, please say whether it is your opinion that no 
advantage is derived to the naval service, in respect of efficiency, 
from the practical exercise of an officer of the duties of his rank, 
and no disadvantage from the omission to exercise them during 
so long a period. 

A. As a practical exercise of his duties is the chief means by 
which an officer attains to efficiency, the service is of course bene- 
fited by such exercise, and suffers correspondingly when it is 
omitted for any great length of time. 

Q. 5. State any other matter or thing within your knowledge, 
bearing on the investigation ? 

A. As my opinion has been asked upon several important points 
which, if unexplained, would likely lead to a misconception of its 
true bearing, in the case of Lieutenant Maffitt, I take the liberty 
of furthermore saying that, in my opinion, the practical knowledge 
and experience which officers have gained on the Coast Survey 
have already contributed very materially to elevate the standard 
of professional knowledge in the Navy; and been of important 
benefit to the service and country, especially in unfrequented and 
unsurveyed portions of the world; this duty, therefore, I regard 
as strictly professional ; and the naval discipline, system and order, 
which officers usually enforce on board of surveying vessels, keep 
up, in a great measure, that professional knowledge which is con- 
fined exclusively in the exercise to regular men-of-war, whilst they 
are advancing in another branch of the profession, that may be 
at any day of great advantage upon foreign service, as I can fully 
testify to from personal observation and experience. 

(Signed) Silas Bent, 

Lieutenant, U. S. N. 

182 The Life and Services of 

Subscribed and sworn to before me, this 8th day of July, A. D. 

C. B. Far well, 

: L. S. : Clerk of the County Court of Cook County, 111. 

Questions propounded to Edwin O. Carnes, late of the U. S. 
Navy (with his replies), by Lieut. John N. Maffitt, U. S. N. : 

O. 1. Have you served in the Navy of the United States; if so, 
state how long, and in what capacity? 

A. I was in the Navy of the United States from June, 1846, 
until the latter part of the year 1855, and my grade was that of 
midshipman, and afterward passed midshipman. 

O. 2. Do you know Lieut. John N. Maffitt ; if so, state when, 
where, and under what circumstances you knew him ? 

A. I know Lieut. John N. Maffitt, and was under his command 
on the Coast Survey for some six months. He was in command 
of a party on board the U. S. schooner Crawford, and I joined 
the vessel in New York, and sailed from there to Charleston, and 
then to the Cape Fear River, in both of which places we had work. 
During the period that I was attached to the party under Lieuten- 
ant Maffitt's command, I had a good opportunity to judge of Lieu- 
tenant Maffitt's character and capacity as an officer. I was then a 
passed midshipman. 

Q. 3. Was Lieutenant Maffitt zealous and active in the perform- 
ance of his duties? 

A. Lieutenant Maffitt was remarkably zealous and active in the 
performance of his duties, and not only saw that every one else 
did his work properly, but was himself constantly and unremit- 
tingly employed. 

Q. 4. State your opinion of Lieutenant Maffitt's moral, phys- 
ical, mental, and professional fitness for the naval service. 

A. My opinion of Lieutenant Maffitt's moral, physical, mental, 
and professional fitness for the naval service is that he is entirely 
fitted in each respect for all and any duties that he may be called 
upon to perform. He is an upright gentleman of good habits, and 
has every quality, mental and professional, for an efficient naval 

(Signed) Edwin O. Carnes, 

58 Wall street, New York, 
Formerly Passed Mid'n, U. S. Navy. 

John Newland Maffitt 183 

Sworn and subscribed to before me this 31st day of July, 1857. 

Dan Seixas, 

: L. S. : Notary Public. 

Hampton, Va., July 1, 1857. 
Capt. George S. Blake, U. S. N. 

Sir : Your answers to the following interrogatories are respect- 
fully requested in the usual legal form : 

Q. 1. Please state your rank, and period of service in the U. S. 

Q. 2. Do you know Lieut. J. N. Maffitt ; if so, please state when 
and* where, and under what relative positions, at the time of your 
personal association with him? 

Q. 3. Was Lieutenant Maffitt an active and energetic officer, 
and zealous in the performance of his duty while under your com- 

Q. 4. Under the circumstances of Lieutenant Maffitt having 
seen eight years' sea service on foreign stations, several years of 
which time he was acting sailing master and lieutenant, perform- 
ing efficiently the duty of these grades, and for the last fourteen 
years actively employed upon Coast Survey duty, ten years of 
which time in command of a hydrographic vessel, employed in 
off-shore soundings, winter and summer, on the coast of America, 
would you now think him fit for the active list of the Navy ? 

0. 5. Do you think Lieutenant Maffitt morally, mentally, physi- 
cally, and professionally, fit for the active list of the Navy? 

Answers to the foregoing interrogatories : 

1. I am a captain, and have served in the Navy about thirty- 
nine years. 

2. Lieutenant Maffitt joined my command on the Coast Survey 
in 1842, or, '43, I think, and served with me on that duty until 

3. I did consider him an active, energetic officer, and zealous 
in the performance of his duty. 

4. I do not regard the vessels employed on the Coast Survey 
as vessels of war; for they are zuithout guns, and are neither 
equipped, manned, or employed for warlike purposes. In my opin- 
ion, an officer may acquire useful professional experience on board 
of them, but I also think that he is without opportunities to acquire 
and keep up a knowledge of the improvements in the profession, 
which for the last ten years have been very great, especially in 
naval ordnance and projectiles. I cannot say whether fourteen 

184 The Life and Services of 

years of continuous service upon the Coast Survey would unfit 
an officer for the active list of the Navy or not. It would depend 
very much upon the officer himself. 

5. I have met Lieutenant Maffitt but two or three times casu- 
ally, in eleven years. When I left the Coast Survey in 1846, I 
considered him eminently fit, in all respects, for the active list of 
the Navy. 

(Signed) Geo. S. Blake, 

Capt, U. S. N. 

Hampton, Va., July 1, 1857. 
Com. B. J. Totten, U. S. N. 

Sir : Your answers to the following interrogatories are respect- 
fully requested in the usual legal form : 

Q. 1. Please state your rank and period of service in the U. S. 

Q. 2. Are you acquainted with Lieut. J. N. Maffitt; if so, please 
state when and where you knew him, and your relative positions? 

Q. 3. From your personal knowledge of Lieutenant Maffitt, do 
you consider him morally, mentally, physically, and profession- 
ally, fit for the active list of the U. S. Navy? 

A. 1. I am a commander in the U. S. Navy, — have been in the 
Navy since March 4, 1823, — have served at sea in all the grades 
of midshipman, passed midshipman, master, lieutenant, first lieu- 
tenant and lieutenant commanding. 

A. 2. Have been acquainted with Lieut. J. N. Maffitt since 1835, 
at which time the said J. N. Maffitt was serving as a midshipman 
in the frigate Constitution, Commo. J. D. Elliott. Subsequently, 
the said J. N. Maffitt was ordered to the U. S. schooner Shark (of 
which vessel I was a lieutenant), for passage to the United States, 
during which passage he performed duty — and I considered him 
at that time an efficient, active, and promising young officer ; and 
to the best of my recollection and belief he, the said J. N. Maffitt, 
was entrusted with charge of deck on several occasions, although 
he had not a regular watch as officer of the deck. And though 
I have never, since that time, been associated with Lieutenant 
Maffitt on duty, I have been intimately acquainted with him 
socially — having resided in the same town with him, and also (as 
boarders) in the same family. 

A. 3. From my personal knowledge of Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, I do 
not hesitate to say that I do consider him morally, mentally, 
physically, and professionally, fit for the active list of the Navy. 
(Signed) Benj'n J. Totten, 

Comd'r, U. S. Navy. 

John Newland Maffitt 185 

State of Rhode Island, County of Newport: 

Newport, July 23, 1857. 
Then personally appeared before me, Benjamin J. Totten, above 
named, to me personally well known, and made oath in due form of 
law to the truth of the above statements by him subscribed. 

In witness whereof, I, William Gilpin, public 

notary for the county of Newport, have set my hand 

: L. S. : and seal this day and year above written. 

(Signed) William Gilpin, 

Public Notary. 

Questions propounded to Lieut. Ralph Chandler, U. S. N., by 
Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. Navy : 
To Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. N. 

Sir: To the following interrogatories propounded to me, I 
herewith respond : 

Q. 1. Please state your rank in the U. S. Navy? 

A. I am a lieutenant in the Navy of the United States. 

Q. 2. Are you acquainted with Lieut. J. N. Maffitt ? 

A. I am well acquainted with Lieut. J. N. Maffitt. 

Q. 3. Have you ever served with him ; if so, state where, and 
how long? 

A. I have served with Lieutenant Maffitt on the Coast Survey 
of the United States since August, 1855, to the present time; he 
being in command of the party, and I a lieutenant under his com- 

O. 4. Is it your opinion that an officer of the Navy who is 
actively engaged in surveying, upon the sea coast of the United 
States, is improved in a knowledge of his profession ? 

A. To the fourth interrogatory I answer in the affirmative, for 
the reason that the coast (especially in the Southern sections) is a 
dangerous one ; and a person engaged in that service is obliged to 
exercise discretion, and a knowledge of seamanship and naviga- 
tion, in order to prosecute the work required of him. 

Q. 5. State your opinion of the professional ability of Lieut. J. 
N. Maffitt, and his character as a gentleman. 

A. As to the professional ability of Lieutenant Maffitt, I answer 
that I am acquainted with fczv in the service who are better skilled 
in the profession than he. As to his qualifications as an officer, I 
consider him a capable, efficient, and able commander, and in every 
respect suitable for any position to which he may be called. As 
to his character as a gentleman, I have seldom found one more 
deserving- the name, at all times, than he. 

186 The Life and Services of 

Q. 6. Is Lieutenant Maffitt a zealous and efficient Government 

A. From my own knowledge, and an intimate acquaintance 
with Lieutenant Maffitt, I can state that he is zealous and efficient, 
ever mindful of the Government interests, and always just in the 
administration of his command. 

Q. 7. Do you consider Lieutenant Maffitt morally, mentally, 
physically, and professionally, fit for the active list of the Navy? 

A. I can also state, from my own knowledge, that I consider 
Lieutenant Maffitt morally, mentally, physically, and profession- 
ally, fit and suitable for the active list of the Navy. 

Q. 8. State any other facts with which you are conversant that 
bear upon the question at issue. 

A. From a long and intimate acquaintance with Lieutenant 
Maffitt, I must, in justice to him, remark that there are few officers 
in the service who possess a greater degree of intellect, more gen- 
eral intelligence, or a better and more thorough knowledge of the 
profession than he. I have often seen him under trying and dan- 
gerous circumstances, and in every case his sound judgment and 
discretion, his skill as a seaman and navigator, and his general 
knowledge of the profession, have ever won the respect, admira- 
tion, and esteem of all under his command, both as an officer and 
a gentleman. 

(Signed) Ralph Chandler, 

Lieutenant, U. S. Navy. 

U. S. Surveying Schooner "Wave," 

YORKTOWN, VA., AugUSt 1 9, 1 857. 

The following questions, to which my answers are appended, 
have been submitted to me in respect to Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maf- 
fitt, U. S. N. : 

Q. 1. Are you acquainted with Lieut. J. N. Maffitt? If so, 
state under what circumstances you have known him. 

A. I am acquainted with Lieut. J. N. Maffitt. I was with him 
as acting master's mate from January until November, 1856, and 
as aid, U. S. Coast Survey, from June, 1856, until June, 1857, in 
all nearly 22 months. During that time he had command of a 
hydrographic party on the Coast Survey, working on the southern 
coast of the United States. 

Q. 2. Have you been at sea with Lieutenant Maffitt, and been 
otherwise associated with him ? 

A. I have been at sea with Lieutenant Maffitt, and also carried 
on the work of the Coast Survey on shore under his supervision. 

John Newland Maffitt 187 

Q. 3. From your knowledge of Lieutenant Maffitt, state your 
opinion of him, as a Government officer, and a gentleman. 

A. In my opinion, Lieutenant Maffitt is pre-eminent as a Gov- 
ernment officer, combining a high order of ability with great skill 
in his profession. His vessel and crew were always in superior 
order and discipline ; courteous to his officers, and those under 
him, but at the same time exacting in all his demands upon them, 
he was respected in the highest degree by those under him. 

Zealous and indefatigable in the discharge of the duties of his 
position, he was always the first to commence work, and the last 
to leave off. I have seen him at times, when his vessel was in the 
utmost danger, perfectly cool and collected. At a time when, if 
it had not been for the perfect state of discipline on board, and his 
skill as a seaman, nothing could have saved his vessel. 

As a gentleman, in my opinion his character stands above 
reproach, — high-toned and honorable in all his associations. And, 
as far as I am capable of judging, I consider Lieutenant Maffitt 
as one of the most able, efficient, and energetic officers that our 
Navy has produced. 

(Signed) W. S. Edwards, 

U. S. Coast Survey. 

Brooklyn, N. Y., July 25, 1857. 

My Dear Sir : I herewith send you my replies to the questions 
proposed by you, in your letter of July 1, and it affords me great 
pleasure to answer them : 

Q. 1. State your rank in the U. S. Navy. 

A. I am a lieutenant. 

Q. 2. Do you know Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. Navy? 

A. I do. 

O. 3. Have you served with Lieutenant Maffitt; if so, state 
when and where, and under what relative positions ? 

A. I have served with him nearly two years — from November, 
1855, up to this time, and was the greater part of that time under 
his command, on board the U. S. schooner Crazvford, engaged 
in the survey of the coast of South Carolina, and all the harbors 
between Savannah and Cape Romain, — also, upon the survey of 
James River. Our relative positions were, Lieutenant Maffitt, 
commanding officer of the party — I as passed midshipman and 

Q. 4. Is the character of the service upon which you have been 
engaged, under the command of Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, calculated to 

188 The Life and Services of 

inculcate an efficient knowledge of seamanship, and ripen the 
capacity of an officer who has learned his profession by eight 
years' service in the line? 

A. I assert, without a moment's hesitation, that the nature of 
the service upon which Lieut. J. N. Maffitt has been employed, 
during my association with him on duty, is the very best we have 
to render an officer prompt, efficient, ready to assume responsi- 
bility, and to cope with unexpected difficulties ; besides this, his 
knowledge of seamanship is improved, for he learns to handle 
a class of vessel unusual in our service in the line. In my esti- 
mation, he becomes, by this service, more energetic, competent, 
and when he returns to his duties in a vessel of the line, he is 
better qualified to resume each and every one of them ; for the 
duties on the Coast Survey are more arduous than in any vessel 
of the line, and call forth in a greater degree all the energy and 
capacity that an officer possesses. 

Q. 5. State your opinion of the professional ability of Lieut. 
J. N. Maffitt — his qualifications as an officer, and his character as 
a gentleman. 

A. Lieut. J. N. Maffitt possesses the highest order of profes- 
sional ability, and I think there are few, if any, in the U. S. Navy, 
his superior. As to his qualifications, I look upon him as emi- 
nently fitted for the U. S. Navy, — possessing ability and energy 
unusual, and a natural turn, with love for his profession. His 
character is unexceptional in every particular. I have never met 
his superior ; and shall always be happy to meet his equal. 

O. 6. Is Lieutenant Maffitt zealous and efficient in the perform- 
ance of his duties; mindful of the Government interests, and just 
in the administration of his command ? 

A. He is particularly so. I have never met an officer possess- 
ing so much zeal, energy, and efficiency, in every department of 
his duty, as Lieutenant Maffitt. As to his ability in commanding, 
he has certainly the greatest talent in attaining results with appar- 
ently the least facilities at hand, — and a crew, at first apparently 
worthless, under his firm, but just, administration of discipline, 
become a credit to the service, and efficient in all their duties — 
besides, are happy and contented, and ready to re-ship. 

Q. 7. From your personal knowledge of Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, do 
you consider him morally, mentally, physically, and professionally, 
fit for the active list of the U. S. Navy? 

A. From personal knowledge, I answer the question in full. 
Lieut. J. N. Maffitt is morally a most unexceptional officer and 
gentleman. I do consider him, mentally, one of the finest orna- 
ments to the U. S. Navy, having an active and inquiring mind, 

John Newland Maffitt 189 

which has led him in researches beyond his profession. From 
what I have seen of service with him during the winters of 1855 
and 1856, whilst engaged on the Coast Survey duties of the most 
arduous kind, and in tempestuous weather, I am satisfied that 
he can bear more than ordinary fatigue, which renders him, in 
my opinion, physically able to perform much more severe duty 
than an active list calls for. Professionally, I consider him efficient 
in each and every branch of the naval service, and a superior 
hydrographic officer ; and from my personal knowledge, I consider 
him highly qualified, in each and every named particular, emi- 
nently adapted and fit for the active list of the U. S. Navy. 

Q. 8. Please state any other circumstances that come within the 
circumference of your knowledge, bearing upon the efficiency and 
character of Lieutenant Maffitt as an officer and a gentleman. 

A. It would be impossible to particularize my knowledge of 
Lieut. J. N. Maffitt's efficiency, and as to his character as an officer 
and a gentleman. In every variety of duty I have ever found him 
the foremost one, and, by his example, instilling into his subordi- 
nates greater energy and zeal. His efficiency as an officer is beyond 
a doubt or question. As to his character as an officer and a gen- 
tleman he has no superior; for he combines with duty and the 
social intercourse of life, the happy faculty of making his sub- 
ordinates respect and esteem him, and perform with such feelings 
their duties with pleasure. Any officer associated with him on or 
off duty will, I am sure, if a high-minded gentleman, learn to 
regard him with warm friendship, and esteem him as an officer 
and a gentleman. Very respectfully, 

(Signed) D. L. Braine, 

Lieut., U. S. N. 

Sworn to before me the 25th of July, 1857. 

(Signed) D. P. Ingraham, 

First Judge of New York Common Pleas. 

Questions propounded to I. J. McKinley, U. S. Coast Survey, 
by Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. N. : 

Q. 1. Have you followed the sea as a profession? 

A. I have, for the last seven years, or more. 

Q. 2. Are you, acquainted with Lieutenant Maffitt, U. S. N. ; if 
so, state how long you have known him, and under what cir- 
cumstances ? 

A. I do know Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, and have known him for 
more than two years. I served under his command as a watch 
officer on board the U. S. schooner Crawford, employed on the 
survey of the coast of South Carolina. 

190 The Life and Services of 

Q. 3. Did you have opportunities for forming an opinion of the 
ability of Lieutenant Maffitt as a seaman and public officer? If 
so, please state the opinions. 

A. I did. Lieutenant Maffitt was exceedingly zealous in the 
performance of all his duties — remarkable for his intelligence and 
industry — apt as a seaman — energetic and cool in emergencies — 
prompt with expedients, in releasing his command from dangerous 
positions. I have seen him on a lee shore, in a violent southeast 
gale of wind — his presence of mind and officer-like bearing im- 
posed confidence and respect. 

Q. 4. State your opinion of Lieutenant Maffitt morally and 

A. I ever found Lieutenant Maffitt a high-toned and honorable 
gentleman, just and conscientious, and strictly upright in all his 
transactions. I've known him in all the relations of life, and speak 
with ample opportunity of forming a correct judgment. Men- 
tally, Lieutenant Maffitt has few superiors. My duty has brought 
me into frequent association with officers of the Navy, and I have 
considered Lieutenant Maffitt in all respects one of the most supe- 
rior I have ever met with. 

(Signed) I. J. McKinley. 

U. S. Coast Survey, July 2d, 1857. 

Questions propounded to Lieut. J. M. Watson (with his replies) 
by Lieut. J. N. Maffitt : 

O. 1. What is your rank, and length of service in the U. S. 

A. I am a lieutenant in the Navy, and have been in the service 34 

O. 2. Do you know Lieut. John N. Maffitt ; if so, state when and 
where you knew him, and your opinion of him from that associa- 

A. I have known Lieutenant Maffitt well — I was attached to the 
U. S. frigate Constitution belonging to the Mediterranean Squad- 
ron with him, during the years '35, '6, '7, and part of '38. In 
that time he was a great deal in my watch and division. I was 
executive officer at periods of that time. He was always remark- 
ably attentive and enthusiastic in his duties. I consider, as an 
officer, he was unsurpassed, and ever a gentleman in every sense 
of the word. 

Q. 3. Do you consider Lieutenant Maffitt morally, mentally, 
physically, and professionally fit for the active service of the Navy ? 

John Newland Maffitt 191 

A. From my knowledge of him then and since, I consider him 
morally, mentally, physically, and professionally fit for any duty 
that can be required of an active and gallant Navy officer. 

(Signed) J. M. Watson, 

U. S. Navy. 

Washington, D. C, July 28, 1857. 
Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. Navy. 

Sir: Your letter of the 1st inst., requesting answers to the 
several interrogatories therein preferred, is received, and I hasten 
to submit the following: 

Q. 1. What is your rank in the U. S. Navy? 

A. Lieutenant. 

Q. 2. Do you know Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, and have you served 
with him? If so, please state when and where. 

A. I do know Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, and have served with him on 
the U. S. Coast Survey, from December, 1854, to May, 1856. 

Q. 3. In your association with Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, did you find 
him zealous and efficient in the performance of the duties entrusted 
to his charge ? 

A. In my association with Lieut. J. N. Maffitt I found him 
exceedingly zealous ; and as far as I was capable of judging, 
highly efficient in the performance of duties entrusted to his 

Q. 4. Did opportunities offer which enabled you to form an 
estimate of his abilities as a seaman ? If so, please state them, and 
your opinion derived therefrom. 

A. During a boisterous winter season on the coast of South 
Carolina, among the currents and shoals, it was his duty to investi- 
gate and survey — frequent were the calls upon all the best facul- 
ties of the seaman — and in no instance, as far as I am aware, was 
Lieutenant Maffitt found wanting. And I drew the evident con- 
clusion that he was skilful in the management of his vessel, fertile 
in resource, with ready application ; cool and self-possessed under 
impending danger, quick to conceive, prompt to execute ; bold and 
cautious, with great powers of endurance. 

Q. 5. Do you think Lieut. J. N. Maffitt morally, mentally, physi- 
cally, and professionally fit for the active list of the Navy ? 

A. I do. 

Hoping the foregoing may be of some service, however slight, 

I remain yours, faithfully, 
(Signed) S. B. Luce,* 

Lieut., U. S. Navy. 
*Now rear-admiral, U. S. N. 

192 The Life and Services of 

On this 28th day of July, 1857, personally appeared S. B. Luce 
and made oath on the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God, that the 
above answers to certain interrogatories are just and true. 

Sworn to before me, 

: seal. : S. Drury, J. P. 

Answers to the several questions asked of Capt. S. B. Wilson 
by Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. Navy : 

Q. 1. Please state your rank, and period of service in the U. S. 

A. I am a captain in the Navy — have been in the service some 
forty-five years (see Navy Register). 

O. 2. Are you acquainted with Lieut. J. N. Maffitt ; if so, state 
when and where you knew him, and under what relative positions ? 

A. I am acquainted with Lieutenant Maffitt — have known him 
by reputation for several years — was personally acquainted with 
him for about one year serving together on board the U. S. frig-ate 
Macedonian, then flag-ship of the "Home Squadron," during parts 
of the years 1839 and 1840. at which time I was the senior lieuten- 
ant or executive officer of the ship, and he, Lieutenant Maffitt, was 
the acting master. 

Q. 3. From your personal knowledge of Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, do 
you consider him morally, mentally, physically, and professionally 
fit for the active list of the U. S. Navy? 

A. From my knowledge of Lieutenant Maffitt, obtained during 
his period of service with me, confirmed by subsequent reports 
respecting him, I have no hesitation in saying that I do consider 
him in all these respects eminently fit for the active list of the Navy. 
His moral character while serving with me, was, to the best of my 
knowledge, strictly correct ; and I have not since heard anything to 
the contrary. 

It is possible that in consequence of his long separation from 
what is termed regular service, he may have become "rustv" as to 
many of the details or minor points of duty on board of regular 
ship-of-war ; but from his reputed high order of intellect, well- 
known energy of character, proficiency of mathematical science 
and nautical skill, I have no doubt as to his being competent to the 
performance of any service in the Navy which ma} r now, or that 
may hereafter, be required of him. 

Respectfully submitted, 
(Signed) S. B. Wilson, 

Capt., U. S. Navy. 

Po'keepsie, N. Y., 24th June, 1857. 

John Newland Maffitt 193 

Ouestions propounded by Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. N., to Lieut. 
C. H. Cushman, U. S. N., and his replies : 

Q. i. What is your rank in the Navy? 

A. I am a lieutenant, commissioned February 8, 1856. 

Q. 2. Do you know Lieut. J. N. Maffitt? If yea, state when 
and under what circumstances. 

A. I have known Lieutenant Maffitt for two years ; served under 
his command in the U. S. C. S. schooners Crawford and Bancroft, 
during fourteen months of that time, surveying different harbors 
and rivers, making passages from place to place, fitting out the 
vessels under his command, and performing the duties incident to 
Coast Survey service. Have been associated with him privately 
during all that time, either as messmate, as companion, or as corre- 

Q. 3. What is your opinion of the official ability of Lieut. J. N. 
Maffitt, so far as your personal knowledge extends? 

A. I look upon him as the most able officer I have ever personally 
known, in every respect, excepting only one officer. 

O. 4. Was not Lieut. J. N. Maffitt at all times zealous in the 
performance of his duties, and efficient on all points connected 
with the same? 

A. His zeal in the performance of his duties was extraordinary ; 
his efficiency upon every point connected with them, complete. 

O. 5. Please state the message sent to Lieutenant Maffitt, in 
August, 1856, by the Hon. the late Secretary J. C. Dobbin, in ref- 
erence to his intention to nominate Lieutenant Maffitt for restora- 
tion to the active list. 

0. 5 is objected to by the judge-advocate as inadmissible, and 
will be answered, subject to exception, to be read before the court. 

A. The message, referred to, was given me to be delivered to 
Lieutenant Maffitt, as official, from the then Honorable Secretary 
of the Navy, in August, 1856. Its length prohibits its complete 
recitation. Its character and substance, however, may be summed 
up as follows : as a whole, it was of such a complimentary char- 
acter as to make it a sufficient satisfaction for the endurance of 
almost any humiliation or injustice. In its substance, it fully 
expressed — 

1. That the Honorable Secretary, and his Excellency, the Presi- 
dent, were firmly and fully convinced that they had sacrificed 
Lieutenant Maffitt for the good of the service, in the belief that 
they were bound to approve, or condemn, the recommendations 
of the Retiring Board as a whole. 

2. That they had concluded to pursue this course only with th ■ 
determination of restoring Lieutenant Maffitt to his position as 

194 The Life and Services of 

soon as possible, and of making him every amend possible, for 
the violence done his feelings, as an officer, and the pain and mor- 
tification caused him by the action in his case. 

3. That the very day on which this message for Lieutenant 
Maffitt was given me, had been appointed by the President for 
sending the nomination for restoration to his position on the active 
list, of Lieutenant Maffitt, to the Senate, and the only thing which 
prevented its being done was the information but just received, 
of the consideration by Congress of a bill touching the action of 
the Retiring Board, under whose provisions all affected would 
alike come, pending which the President felt constrained to take 
no action in the matter. 

4. That in case of the failure, on the part of Congress, to make 
provision as above, by the passage of a bill, for the inquiry desired 
concerning the justice of the recommendation of the Board, or of 
the consideration by Congress, early in its next session, of the 
passage of a like bill, the Hon. Secretary and his Excellency the 
President stood sacredly pledged, both officially and otherwise, 
to the nomination, early in December following, of Lieutenant 
Maffitt for restoration to the active list. 

Finally, that the Hon. Secretary would never cease to exert 
himself to the utmost to repair the injury done to Lieutenant 
Maffitt by the "very, very great mistake" made by the Retiring 
Board in his case. Many other things were said by the Hon. 
Secretary in this message, increasing the strength of its character. 
The above, however, very nearly comprises in substance the full 
extent of this extraordinarily complimentary message. 

O. 6. From your personal knowledge of Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, do 
you consider him morally, mentally, physically, and professionally 
fit for the active list of the Navy ? 

A. From my personal knowledge, I consider Lieutenant Maffitt 
in every respect not only fit for the active list of the Navy, but 
well calculated to be an ornament to the same. 

Cross-examined by the judge-advocate: 

O. 1. Have you ever served with Lieutenant Maffitt on board 
a man-of-war ; if so, when, where and how long? 

A. I have never sailed in a regular man-of-war with Lieutenant 
Maffitt; but it is due to him to say, that as far as the extremely 
arduous duties would allow, he made his vessels men-of-war, in 
all but the guns and long cruises. 

Q. 2. Is it your opinion that an officer holding the commission 
of lieutenant for the space of fourteen years, and during that 
lime doiner no duty on board a man-of-war, would, at the end of 

John Newland Maffitt 195 

that period, if ordered to sea as first lieutenant of a frigate, be 
fully competent to discharge his duty as such, promptly and 
efficiently; and is there no advantage to the service derived from 
an officer exercising practically the duties of his rank, and no 
disadvantage resulting from the non-exercise of them during so 
long a period ? 

A. In the case of an ordinary officer, I consider he would not 
be competent, — that there is an advantage in his exercising the 
duties of his rank, and a disadvantage if he does not exercise 
them somewhere — though I do not consider that that somewhere 
should be of necessity on board of a man-of-war. 

But I consider that the peculiar character of Lieutenant Maffitt, 
and his capability as an officer and man ; his intelligence, energy 
of purpose, and unwavering application to the accomplishment of 
an object, together with his extraordinary capacity for mental and 
physical exertion, and the success with which the application of 
these qualities to the accomplishment of an object has always, 
within my observation, been attended, all combine to make him an 
exception to the common run of men and officers. And so firmly 
am I convinced that his constant service on the Coast Survey, 
even for fourteen years, has, on account of the fondness with which 
he has endeavored always to make his vessel as nearly as possible 
a man-of-war, in no material point affected his efficiency as an 
executive or commanding officer, that I should choose him for 
that position in preference to any officer with whose qualifica- 
tions I am personally acquainted. 

O. 3. Please state any other matter or thing within your knowl- 
edge bearing on this inquiry. 

A. There is no other matter or thing, within my knowledge, 
bearing on this inquiry, which I can now recall. 

(Signed) Charles H. Cushman, 

Lieut, U. S.N. 
(Signed) J. M. Carlisle, 


July 3, 1857. 

Re-examination by Lieutenant Maffitt, U. S. N.: 
Q. While commanding the U. S. schooner Crawford, did I not 
assume the executive duties, attend to the stationing and disciplin- 
ing the crew, and exhibit a sufficient degree of ability in all points 
usually considered necessary qualifications for an executive officer 
on sea service? 

A. You did — and the good order and discipline of the vessels 
under your command, and the systematic regularity kept up, 

196 The Life and Services of 

tog-ether with the man-of-war-like manner of working and com- 
manding them, are, in my opinion, a sufficient evidence of your 
complete ability to discharge, anywhere, the duties of either execu- 
tive or commanding officer — and I fully believe, were you ordered, 
to-morrow, to the executive duties of a frigate, that they would 
be as successfully discharged by you, and the ship as perfect and 
hapov a man-of-war, as was the case with the Crawford. 

(Signed) Chas. H. Cushman. 

Lieut., U. S. N. 

State of Virginia, Norfolk County, to wit: 

This day, personally appeared before me, John Nash, a justice 
of the peace, in and for the county aforesaid, Charles H. Cushman, 
who made oath in due form of law that the facts and statements 
contained in the foregoing answers are true and correct as far as 
they depend on his own knowledge; and so far as they depend 
upon the knowledge of others, he believes them to be correct. 

Given under my hand, this 9th day of July, 1857. 

John Nash, J. P. 

Interrogatories propounded to Commander Colhoun, U. S. 

O. 1. What is your rank, and how long have you been in the 

A. I am a commander in the Navy, and have been in the service 
since 1821. 

Q. 2. Are you acquainted with Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. N. ; if 
so, state when and where you knew him ? 

A. Lieutenant Maffitt was associated with me on duty on board 
the U. S. frigate Constitution, the flagship in the Mediterranean 
Squadron, in the years 1835, 1836, 1837 and 1838; he returned 
with me to the United States, in the U. S. schooner Shark, in 1838, 
and on the passage was pretty constantly in charge of the deck, 
and always performed his duties creditably. 

Q. 3. State your opinion of Lieutenant Maffitt, as an officer and 

A. At the time aforesaid, I considered Lieutenant Maffitt one 
of the most promising and intelligent midshipmen we had on 
board, and always found him the proper and courteous gentleman. 

Jno. Colhoun, 
Commander, U. S. Navy. 
Washington, July 20, 1857. 

Washington, July 21, 1857. 

Ouestions propounded to Lieut. J. W. Cooke, U. S. N., by Lieut. 
J. N. Maffitt : 

John Newland Maffitt 197 

Q. i. What is your rank, and how long have you been in the 
Navy ? 

A. I am a lieutenant, and have been in the service twenty-nine 

Q. 2. Do you know Lieutenant Maffitt ; if so, state when and 
where you have known him? 

A. I do know Lieutenant Maffitt very well. I have known him 
since his entry in the Navy. I sailed with him in the frigate Con- 
stitution in the years 1835, 1836 and 1837;— in the West India 
Squadron with him in 1839;— on board of the frigate Macedonian, 
in 1840 and 1841 ; he was a midshipman from 1835 to 1838 ; and 
acting lieutenant and sailing master during my last association 
with him at sea. My association, socially, has never ceased. 

O. 3. What is your opinion of Lieutenant Maffitt, as an officer 
and a gentleman? 

A. I have an excellent opinion of Lieutenant Maffitt ; and as an 
officer, he was always prompt, zealous and efficient. As a gentle- 
man he is beyond reproach. 

O. 4. Do you consider Lieutenant Maffitt now fit for the active 
lisf of the Navy, under all heads ? 

A. From my intimate knowledge of Lieutenant Maffitt, I do 
consider him morally, mentally, physically, and professionally fit 
for the active list of the Navy. 

(Signed) J. W. Cooke, 

Lieut., U. S. N. 

Note. — Many more affidavits of a like complimentary character 
have been received, but too late for publication. 

On the concluding page of the preceding "case" I find 
written in my husband's own handwriting the following: 
"Promptly restored and placed in command of the U. S. brig 
Dolphin. Detached to attend the trial of 'Slavers' captured by 
him, and then ordered to command the U. S. sloop-of-war 

From a newspaper clipping of that day, found within the 
pages of the foregoing pamphlet, I copy the following com- 
ments on this whole subject and the Naval Courts of Inquiry 
then being held in Washington, D. C. : 

Since the closing of Lieutenant Maffitt's case, the depositions of 
Lieut. Charles H. Cushman have been received, and as one of his 

198 The Life and Services of 

answers furnishes an interesting chapter in the history of the pro- 
ceedings of the famous "Retiring Board," I copy it entire. Such 
precious scraps should be preserved. It will be recollected that 
the then Secretary of the Navy, Mr. Dobbin, as well as President 
Pierce, admitted that injustice had been done in some individual 
cases, and the inquiry by the country was, Why was not this in- 
justice prevented? Lieutenant Cushman "accounts for the milk 
in the cocoanut." [See Lieutenant Cushman's testimony in full, 
supra. ] 

Such is the testimony of Lieutenant Cushman as to the manner 
in which poor Pierce administered the law under which two hun- 
dred and one officers were stricken from the active service list and 
consigned to disgrace. 

It is generally understood that several members of this "star 
chamber" are now busily engaged in hunting up evidence to sus- 
tain their decisions. As the Board was merely advisory in its 
action, it would seem that the officers composing it would feel a 
pleasure in seeing any mistakes they had made in pronouncing 
judgment upon brother officers, corrected by the Courts of In- 

On the fly leaf of the pamphlet from which the foregoing "Case" 
is quoted is written that the action of this Retiring Board was based 
on their "naval prejudice against scientific duty and personally 
demonstrated by the 'star chamber,' whose secret proceedings 
caused such a general expression of indignation throughout the 
land that Congress promptly passed remedial laws, and the action 
of the Naval Board of fifteen was annulled as well as condemned." 

From a certified copy of the records in the Navy Department of 
the service of Lieutenant Maffitt, which has been furnished to me, 
I gather the following : 

September 14, 1855, Lieut. J. N. Maffitt was placed on the 
reserved list on furlough pay. This was by the action of the Retir- 
ing Board. From this most trying position, we learn, both from 
the records of the Navy Department above referred to, and his 
testimony in his defense, that he was in a measure relieved by the 
Secretary of the Navy, who continued him on active duty. The 
record states that on "October 13, 1855, he resumed command of 
Coast Survey party," and also that on January 18, 1858, he was 
"detached from command of a hydrographic party, and ordered 
to the Coast Survey office." This was to settle up his record, as, 
on January 29, 1858, he was "commissioned as a lieutenant from 
the 25th of June, 1843, on tne act i ye nst -" 

John Newland Maffitt 199 

On June I, 1858, he was ordered to command the U. S. brig 
Dolphin. While in command of the Dolphin, his duty was to look 
out for pirates and slavers, and he was fortunate in being the first 
American naval officer who ever captured a craft of the latter 
class together with its cargo. He did his duty by sending the 
prize into the nearest American port ; and no doubt he feels grati- 
fied that that port was Charleston, S. C, where he is perhaps best 
known and appreciated. 

The above is from a newspaper clipping of that day. The 
following was furnished this writer by the late Hon. Charles 
H. Simonton, judge of the Circuit Court of the United States 
(Fourth Circuit), who was a personal and valued friend : 

Extract of a Decree of the United States District Court. Entered 
on Thursday, December 16, 1858, in the Case of the United 
States vs. the Brig "Echo," registered as the "Putnam' of 
Neiv Orleans. 

The libel in this case prays the condemnation and forfeiture of 
the brig Echo upon the allegation that she was engaged in the slave 
trade in contravention of the laws of the United States. And the 
4th Section of an Act passed the 10th day of May, A. D. 1800; the 
first section of the same Act; the first section of the Act passed 
the 22nd March, 1794, are particularly mentioned as having been 

On the 2 1st August, 1858, the brig Dolphin, a commissioned 
vessel of the United States, was cruising in obedience to orders on 
the north coast of Cuba for the protection of American commerce 
and the suppression of the slave trade, commanded by J. N. Maffitt. 
a lieutenant of the Navy of the United States. In the course of 
that day the Dolphin was running down the shore line from Sagua 
la Grande toward Cardenas and attention was excited by the sus- 
picious movements of a vessel sailing in the same direction. The 
Dolphin commenced a chase of her, and when nearing her hoisted 
the English colors and fired two blank cartridges to make the sus- 
pected vessel show her colors. No notice was taken of the 
cartridges and a shot was then fired across her bows, and then a 
second shot, when the vessel hoisted American colors. The Dol- 
phin then hauled down the English colors and hoisted American 
colors. A shot was then fired at the main topsail of the vessel, 
which brought her to. Lieutenant Bradford, an officer of the Dol- 

200 The Life and Services of 

phittj with an armed boat's crew, was ordered on board of the 
vessel to ascertain her character. The testimony of this officer, 
from which this narrative is derived, further shows that when he 
got on board, he ascertained that her cargo consisted of African 
negroes. She had no paper or National flag. The negroes were 
stowed in the hold on a temporary deck, the height of which he 
thinks was forty-four inches. The sexes were separated, but the 
negroes were almost entirely naked, and with the provisions occu- 
pied the space allotted for cargo. None of them occupied that por- 
tion of the vessel allowed to passengers. "Echo" was painted as the 
name of the vessel and "Putnam, New Orleans," was seen at her 
stern, but had been partially painted over. The negroes were all 
treated as slaves. It is unnecessary to refer to other parts of the tes- 
timony, which is long and minute in its details of what the witness 
saw and heard while on board. Under the orders of the com- 
mander of the Dolphin, the captured vessel was brought into the 
port of Charleston, in charge of Lieutenant Bradford and a prize 

* * * :!■: * ~\- * 

On the 14th day of December, 1858, the court made the 
following decree in the case of — 

The United States 
— vs. — 
The Brig "Echo," Registered 
As The "Putnam/' of New Orleans. 

This case came up to be heard on the libel and proofs adduced 
in support of the libel. No answer or plea having been filed and 
after proclamation duly made, default having been entered against 
all concerned, and upon consideration of the said libel as also of 
the said proofs. It is now. 

Ordered, adjudged and decreed, That all rip-ht of property of 
Edward C. Townsend and of every other person or persons in the 
said vessel called the Echo and registered as the Putnam of the 
port of New Orleans in the District of Louisiana, be forfeited and 
the said vessel be condemned for a violation of the 1st and 4th 
Sections of an Act of Congress of the United States, passed the 
10th day of May, 1800. 

And it is further ordered, That the Marshal of the United States 
for the District of South Carolina do proceed to advertise for four- 
teen days in one or more gazettes of the city of Charleston, in the 
State of South Carolina, the sale of the said vessel, and at some 

John Newland Maffitt 201 

day after the expiration of the said fourteen days, at public auction, 

he do sell the said vessel to the highest bidder. And that he report 

the said sale to this court at its first sitting after the said sale and 

hold the proceeds of the said sale subject to the further order of 

the Court. 

A. G. Magrath. 

On Monday, January 10, 1859, the Marshal made his report 
of sale of the brig Echo under order of court. 

On the 17th day of January, 1859, the Court made the 
following decree, in the case of — 

United States 

— vs. — 

The Brig "Putnam." 

On hearing the report of sales by the Marshal and the taxation 
of the costs by the clerk, on motion of the District Attorney, it is 

Ordered, That out of the proceeds of the sale of said vessel the 
Putnam and the goods and effects found on board, the Marshal 
do pay the expenses incurred prior to the sale of the said vessel 
and reported by the Marshal as amounting to the sum of $842.94, 
and that he do also out of the proceeds of said sale, pay the costs 
as taxed by the Clerk and amounting to the sum of $151.15, and 
that after the payment of the said costs and charges, the Marshal 
do deposit the balance in the Treasury of the United States as 
required under the 8th Section of the Statutes of the said United 
States passed March 3, 1849. 

A. G. Magrath. 

On the 1 8th day of January, 1859, the court entered the 
following order in the case of — 

United States 

— vs. — 
Brig "Putnam." 

On motion of the District Attorney, it is 

Ordered, That the proceeds of the sale of the brig Putnam and 
cargo, now deposited in the Registry of Court, be paid over to the 
hands of the Marshal, to be disposed of by him pursuant to the 
order of the court. 

A. G. Magrath. 

202 The Life and Services of 

The following- is a copy of the letter which accompanied 
these papers : 

Charles H. Simonton, 

Circuit Judge. 

The Circuit Court of the United States, 
Fourth Circuit. 

Charleston, S. C, 28th May, 1897. 
~Mv Dear Madam : With this I send extracts of the U. S. 
District Court for South Carolina. These are from the copies 
which at that time were kept under rule of court. The original 
papers are lost or destroyed. 

There is a good deal more, but the other parts of the record 
relate to the trial of the crew of the Echo and the disposition of 
the negroes. I can easily get these. No fees are due as my secre- 
tary did it all. I can never forget the very pleasant visit to Wil- 
mington. With kindest regards to you and to yours, 

Charles H. Simonton. 
Mrs. Emma Maffitt, 

Wilmington, North Carolina. 

A letter from J. Laurens Read, stepson of Lieutenant Maffitt 
and a young lad of promise, is given merely as furnishing 
news of the whereabouts of the U. S. brig Dolphin at the date 
given. This young boy seems to have been taken on this 
cruise on account of his health. 

U. S. Brig "Dolphin," 
Key West, July 2, 1858. 

My Dear Florie and Mary : To travel in "foreign parts" on 
board of a mighty man-of-war is some pumpkins. Just to think 
of me, trotting myself out at Havana with sword and belt on ! 
Ahem ! If I'd not been used to this article as "a o-eneral" I'd have 
tripped up. "Bosh" was saved by his fat. 

We had a pleasant flying visit to Havana — agreeable it would 
have been had the yellow fever not flourished so frightfully, and 
we had to go out at once. I visited the tomb of Columbus, heard a 
fine band of 65 musicians, looked at pretty Spanish ladies, ate ice 
cream, and then went on board in state. Papa paid an official 
visit to the Gov'r-General — he was in full togs — and looked as 
fine as a peacock, as Johnnie says. Key West is a wrecking place, 
built up by the misfortunes of vessels that go on shore on the 

John Newland Maffitt 203 

Florida reefs. I've not paid it a visit yet. The Colorado and the 
IV abash are here — and we are overhauling ready for a start on 
or about the 7th July. Kiss the youngsters for me, love to Eugene, 
and may we soon meet in health and happiness. 

I am your affectionate brother, 
J. L. Read. 

On another page of the same letter he writes the following 
to his half-brother, Eugene : 

U. S. Brig "Dolphin;" 
Key West, July 2, '58. 

My Dear Eugene : We have had thus far a pleasant month's 
cruise — going along the coast of Cuba, seeing English men-of- 
war, American and Spanish. 

We went into Havana, but in consequence of yellow fever we 
remained but 18 hours, and the people on shore thought that was 
imprudent. Papa paid an official visit to the Gov'r-General — and 
was pleased. I went on shore to hear the splendid Spanish band 
play on the "Plaza National." I saw the tomb of Columbus — 
heard delightful music — saw black eyes that would have destroyed 
your appetite and produced any quantity of poetical effusions out 
of you; ate ice cream, and buckling my sword, went on board, 
returning military salutes as we passed down the different streets. 
"Bosh" was rather new with a mucklewanger and came near 
tumbling over the sword every time he struck out. 

Mama will show you my journal and papa requests you will keep 
one for him. Give my best respects to Father McGuire, tell him I 
shall return to Town as soon as my health is restored. 

Bosh was sick 18 days — he suffered terribly — but has not lost 
fat. He sends his cordial regards and will be happy to hear from 
you. Papa sends much love, and says that you must try and 
improve and show your affection for him by making good use of 
his sending you to school. The Dolphin we are now overhaul- 
ing, and hope to have her a fine-looking craft. 

Your affectionate brother, 
J. L. Read. 

These letters, as the above date shows, were written previous 
to the capture of the slaver Echo by the Dolphin, which latter 
event took place August 21, 1858. 


Removes to James River, Va. — Family of Col. J. Jones — Disposes of his 
home and removes to Washington, D. C. — Life in Washington — Men 
of mark and hours of relaxation at 1214 K street — Death of Mrs. Maf- 
fitt— Lieutenant Maffitt ordered to command U. S. steamer Crusader — 
Duties — Capture of slaver Bogota — Description of scenes on board — 
Letters home — Memorandum of captures — Seizure of forts below New 
Orleans — The Crusader's visit to New Orleans and Mobile, Ala. — 
Events of her stay at Mobile, etc. — Secession of Alabama — Intention 
to seize the Crusader by desperadoes frustrated — Letter of Lieutenant 
Craven, U. S. N. 

In the latter part of the year 1853 or early in 1854, Lieu- 
tenant Maffitt purchased a home in Virginia on the James 
River, to which he removed his family, and there they lived 
for the following four or five years. From all I have heard, 
I imagine their life here was as happy as is permitted to 
mortals, although the health of his wife began to fail and the 
location he found was unhealthy, as chills and fevers assailed 
the family. Among their neighbors and prized friends was 
the family of Col. J. Jones, father of his shipmate and close 
personal friend, Lieut. J. Pembroke Jones, U. S. N. 

Lieutenant Jones served with Lieutenant Maffitt in the 
United States Navy from October, 1848, to December, 1849, 
and from June, 1852, to February, 1855, most of which time 
he was under the immediate command of Lieutenant Com- 
manding Maffitt, on the Coast Survey. This close friendship 
continued until Captain Maffitt died. The intimacy between 
the two families bordered nearly on relationship, and the 
youngest children acknowledged it by title. 

The duties of Lieutenant Maffitt constantly kept him away 
from home, but at times, when surveying the James River, he 
was permitted the enjoyment of family life. In honor of his 
wife, their home was called "Carrieville." Here a second son 
was born to them, whom thev named Colden Rhind, for a 

John Newland Maffitt 205 

valued friend, Alexander Golden Rhind, who afterward became 
a rear-admiral in the U. S. Navy. This child lived to be 
seventeen years old, but was afflicted from his birth, and ever 
had the most solicitous care and devotion from all of his 
family; from none more than from his distressed father, who 
spared no pains or expense to overcome his disabilities. 

In 1858 or 1859 Lieutenant Maffitt disposed of his place on 
the James, and bought a home in Washington City, 12 14 K 
street, where were often gathered those men of mark, Judge 
Jeremiah Black, Professor Bache, Commodore Sands, Judge 
Radcliffe and their families. The social life of Washington 
was then in its zenith, where jealousy of precedence did not 
invade the loving interest of its members in each other, and 
each vied to contribute to the enjoyment of the whole. Often 
have I heard Captain Maffitt laughingly describe an occasion 
where, at a children's party at his house, he had the dignified 
Judge Black and others on their knees playing the games of 
"forfeits" or "Simon says up." Those were halcyon days, the 
breathing time, before the fires of that fierce fratricidal strife 
were kindled, into the furnace of which each individual of that 
happy band was cast in baptism. Even then rumblings were 
heard, but they seemed afar off, and none realized that those 
so closely affiliated, both by the ties of professional life and 
similarity of taste, would so soon be so widely separated, 
arrayed against each other in battle. 

In the winter of 1859, Mrs. Maffitt, after some years of 
suffering, passed away. It was a sad blow to all, as she had 
been a devoted mother to the little motherless ones committed 
to her care by their fond father, as well as to her own, and they 
testified in after years to her loving care. 

Lieutenant Maffitt placed the girls, Florie Maffitt and Mary 
Read, at the school of Mrs. Kingsford in Washington City, 
and the boys, Eugene Maffitt and Laurens Read, under the 
tuition of the Rev. Mr. Lippitt in Georgetown. The younger 
children were sent to "Ellerslie," the home of his cousin, Mrs. 

206 The Life and Services of 

Hybart, near Fayetteville, North Carolina, where they 
remained under the care of "Auntie," as they called her, until 
after the war. 

Lieutenant Maffitt had been "detached and ordered to settle 
accounts" in September, 1858, just after his capture of the 
slaver Echo while in command of the U. S. brig Dolphin, and 
on October 20, 1858, he had been ordered to the Coast Survey 
Office in Washington, D. C. He seems to have remained in 
Washington engaged in the duties of this office during the 
winter of 1859, and thus he was able to render the last 
affectionate services to his dying wife. The record furnished 
me by the Navy Department states that "June n, 1859, he 
was ordered to be ready to command the (U. S. steamer) 
Crusader," and on July 28 of the same year, he was also 
directed to "act as purser of the Crusader." 

His duties while in command of the Crusader were the 
same as those while in command of the Dolphin, namely, to 
cruise on the coast of Cuba, in order to intercept and capture 
slavers and pirates. The following is copied from a news- 
paper clipping found among his papers : 

Highly Interesting From The Gulf. 

The capture of another nameless slaver — Full and minute particu- 
lars of the chase — Appearance and behavior of the negroes — 
Condition of the ship — The passage to Key West — Transfer 
of the Africans and negroes to the Federal authorities, etc., etc. 

[From our Special Correspondent] 

U. S. S. "Crusader," May 27, i860. 
As the U. S. steamer Crusader was cruising in the old Bahama 
Channel, not far from Nuevitas, on the 23d of May a square-rigged 
vessel of moderate size was reported from aloft. " We immediately 
stood for her, as no sail is allowed to pass us in these slaver- 
haunted waters, or even to come in sight, without having her char- 
acter ascertained. As soon as she found herself an object of pur- 
suit, the strange sail began to behave in such a manner as strongfly 
excited our suspicions, and at length fairly put her helm up and 
ran in for the shore, thus taking the last and most desperate chance 
of escape. Unfortunately for her, the wind was so light that she 

John Newland Maffitt 207 

was prevented from effecting her purpose, and we rapidly over- 
hauled her, notwithstanding- that she was carrying all her canvas. 

The Crusader now hoisted English colors and fired a gun to 
windward, when, after some delay, the bark ( for such she proved 
to be) finally displayed the French flag at the peak. By this time, 
however, we were so near that we were enabled to see that her 
hatches were all closely covered over, and as we continued to 
approach we could even distinguish at intervals the peculiarly 
loathsome odor of a crowded slave-ship. Under these circum- 
stances it was determined to board her, and accordingly a boat and 
the English ensign were lowered at the same time, and the Ameri- 
can colors were hoisted. No sooner did the Crusader's boat leave 
her side than the bark hauled down the French colors, and as we 
subsequently learned, threw them and her Portuguese papers over- 
board together ; so that when she was boarded she had neither 
papers nor colors, and was confessedly without name or nationality. 

For a little while there was dead silence on board both ships, 
though the increasing strong ammoniacal African odor placed 
beyond all doubt the fact that the bark had under her hatches a 
cargoof negroes. And now we began to hear a sort of suppressed 
moaning, which soon swelled into the unmistakable murmur of 
many human voices. As our boat reached the side of the bark, 
and the officer in charge sprang on deck, with a tremendous shout 
the hatches were forced open from below, and out burst hundreds, 
the^self-liberated slaves. As they caught sight of the "Stars and 
Stripes" floating so near — which no doubt seemed to these poor 
wretches like a bright rainbow of promise — they became perfectly 
frantic with joy. They climbed up all along the rail — they hung 
on the shrouds — they clustered like swarming bees in the rigging, 
while rose from sea to sky the wildest acclamations of delight. 
They danced, and leaped, and waved their arms in the air, and 
screamed and yelled in a discordant but pathetic concert. There 
was one thing, however, even more touching than all this outcry 
of barbaric rejoicing. My attention was attracted to a group con- 
sisting of somewhat more than a hundred women, withdrawn 
apart from the shouting and noisy men. Their behavior was in 
strong contrast with that of the others, and was characteristic of 
their sex. Entirely nude, but innocently unabashed, they sat or 
knelt in tearful and silent thankfulness. Several of them held 
infants in their arms, and through their tears, like sunshine behind 
a cloud, beamed an expression of the deepest gratitude and happi- 
ness. The men looked as though they had just been raised from 
despair to the most exultant gladness. 

208 The Life and Services of 

The scene of confusion on board the bark, when the negroes 
found themselves released from the accustomed restraint, baffles all 
description. They had, of course, all been kept on a very small 
allowance of food and water during the passage. The first use 
they made of their liberty was to satisfy their hunger and thirst, 
which they did by breaking into the bread barrels and water-casks, 
and then running about eating, drinking, dancing and screaming, 
all at once. It mattered but little to them what sort of vessels they 
drank from — buckets, boxes and troughs were all brought into 
requisition. I even saw several fellows, happy and delighted, with 
a piece of bread in one hand and a wooden spittoon full of muddy 
water in the other. 

As soon as their appetites were satisfied, the African fondness 
for finery began to show itself, and all the loose articles in the ship 
were employed as personal ornaments. Some fastened belaying 
pins to their wrists, and some strutted proudly about with copper 
ladles hung around their necks. 

By this time, however, a detachment of marines arrived from 
the Crusader, and order was at once restored and an organization 
established. The negroes were clothed with pieces of canvas, and 
the captain, super-cargo and crew sent on board the Crusader as 

They made no claims or remonstrances whatever, but surren- 
dered themselves as slavers without nationality. They stated that 
the bark had no name, and that all their papers had been thrown 
overboard with the colors. They seemed to bear their loss with 
philosophic equanimity. Such a contingency had evidently been 
regarded by them as a part of their risk, and they were not unpre- 
pared for it. The captain is a Frenchman, as is also the super- 
cargo, and the crew are mostly Spaniards with a few Frenchmen. 
The negroes were selected from among 3,000 prisoners of war 
recently taken by the King of Dahomey. They were brought from 
Whydah, a large town on the slave coast, in the Bight of Benin, 
the seaport of the renowned Kingdom of Dahomey. They are 
much superior to the Congos, who usually compose the cargoes of 
slavers, not only in physique, but also in intelligence. Nearly all 
are in excellent health, which is no doubt owing to the careful 
arrangements made for their comfort on board the bark. In num- 
ber they amount to about 450 ; and the slave deck affords ample 
accommodation for them all. During a passage of 45 days from 
the Gulf of Guinea, seven only have died, which is certainly a very 
small number. 

John Newland Maffitt 209 

The passage from Cuba to Key West was made without any 
deaths among the negroes, and without any incident of interest. 
Barracoons have been erected at Key West for the accommodation 
of recaptured slaves, and our cargo will be sent thither as soon as 
possible. The prisoners will remain in charge of the U. S. Mar- 
shal, to await the result of their trial. 

This is the first prize captured by the Crusader since she has been 
in the Gulf. It is proper to state that is not to be attributed to any 
want of activity or efficiency on the part of this cruiser, but is due 
to the fact that she has been kept a great part of the time away from 
the station. On her first arrival in the Gulf she found herself dis- 
patched by her sealed orders up the Mississippi to intercept a sus- 
pected filibuster expedition and was detained, by instructions from 
the Government, at anchor off New Orleans for nearly two months. 
Subsequently, she was again compelled to leave the coast of Cuba 
for the purpose of having a new deck laid at Pensacola, which 
involved another month of absence. And on a third occasion, just 
when several cargoes were expected, an accident to her machinery 
obliged her to go to Key West for repairs, at the time that the 
Wildfire and the William were captured by the Mohawk and Wyan- 
dotte. She is even now in a partially disabled condition on account 
of a broken cylinder, which it is impossible to repair perfectly, and 
which should be immediately replaced by a new one. 

In corroboration of the above I give the following extracts 
from letters written by Lieutenant Maffitt to his daughters : 

U. S. S. "Crusader," Nov. 4th, 1859. 
New Orleans. 

My Dear Girls : You must write to me at once, directing to 
Warrington, Florida (Navy Yard), and after that Key West, 
Florida, will be my post-office. 

I trust that you are both well and rapidly progressing with your 
studies. * * * I wrote to you on our arrival, and since that 
time have been so much oppressed with company and ceremony, 
that not one day have I had to myself — or even an opportunity to 
use my own cabin. 

We have been received with great courtesy ; and as for the fili- 
busters we were sent after, they are in large numbers, but afraid 
to move while the U. S. Government shows a force to prevent their 
unlawful departure. * * * 

I will sail for the Navy Yard, Warrington, Florida, to coal in 
a few days. * * :;: Your affectionate father, 

J. N. Maffitt. 

210 The Life and Services of 

Key West, May 9, i860. 

My Dear Florie : I am in very great haste, having considerable 
trouble with our engine, which broke down some days ago. It is 
doubtful if we repair it. Captain Craven has caught a slaver 
with 514 negroes on board. I would have had one but broke 
down. * * * 

The Crusader may have to go north for a new cylinder. 

I send money to Mrs. Kingsford to-day. [Mrs. Kingsford was 
the principal of the young ladies' seminary where the girls 

Mr. Offley will give you money when 'tis necessary. 

Later he writes : 

"Crusader," at Sea, 

May 22, i860. 

My Dear Florie and Mary: We are cruising off the east 
mouth of the old Bahama Channel, looking out for slavers; if our 
engine had not broken down on the 30th of April we would no 
doubt have had a slaver by this time ; but as I caught the first it 
is but reasonable to expect that Captain Craven and Captain 
Stanley should have the next. If the Crusader's engine will only 
stand, I think we will catch the next ; but the truth is I am in 
constant dread of an accident. The cylinder, the lungs of the 
engine, is broken and only patched up. 

I trust that my dear girls are doing very well. Ask Mrs. Kings- 
ford if she received $320 which I sent her? Give my love to all 
friends and particularly to the school-girls whom I am acquainted 
with. When you see the Gillises, my kind regards. Have you 
seen the Mclntires lately ? Give my love to the Radcliffs. 

Write to Auntie [Mrs. Hybart] and tell her that you have heard 
from me, and particularly congratulate Mrs. Craven on the Cap- 
tain's success. That you hope he will always have good fortune. 

Commodore Smith put $30 in the bank (Mr. Offly's) long ago 
for you, so you can draw when necessary. Besides, Mr. Offly will 
let you have money when you require it. Keep our bank account 
and exact outlays for Mary and yourself. 

And now, my dear Mary, how did you fancy the jelly? What 
a glorious time you girls must have had with it. If I have good 
reports I'll send or bring you more, as it is now probable that I 
will see you by the 25th of July, or thereabouts, our engine requir- 
ing a new cylinder. 

Has our house been rented? Tell me al! the news. Mary, my 
dear, if you will improve in your handwriting. I'll send you a 
pretty Pena dress ; come, there's a fair bargain. 

John Newland Maffitt 211 

If I do take the Crusader north you girls can spend a week on 
board ; but you will have to dress very nicely and be like wax- 
work ! * * * Look at your map and you can see where I 
am, off Lotus Island on the Bahama Bank. God bless you, my 
dear children. May you always be good and hapnv. 

Your devoted father, 
J. N. Maffitt. 

The next day. May 23, after the above was written, occurred 
the capture by the Crusader which has been described. 

A description of the provision made for the reception of the 
cargoes of these slavers, which was given in "The Key of the 
Gulf," a newspaper of that date, may not be uninteresting in 
these days. 

The buildings erected on Whitehead Point for the accommoda- 
tion of the negroes give to that part of the island quite a town-like 
appearance. Fronting the shore and distant about one hundred 
and fifty yards from high-water mark, they go down each day and 
bathe therein. This in itself is a means of great personal comfort, 
besides being a healthful exercise. The depot is two hundred and 
fifty-two feet long by twenty-five wide, divided into nine rooms, so 
that the sexes are separated, as well as children from those of 
larger growth. In these spacious and well-ventilated rooms they 
eat and sleep, and during the heat of the day repose from the ver- 
tical sun. They are fed in squads of ten, seated around a large 
bucket, filled with rice and meat, each one armed with a spoon to 
feed with. Thirty-gallon tubs stand in the center of each room, 
and they help themselves freely to water. 

A New Orleans paper of that date also mentions the 
captured negroes in the following manner : 

The U. S. mail steamship Galveston, W. H. Hutchino-s, com- 
mander, from Havana, via Key West and the Florida ports, arrived 
this morning. ■ 

From Pensacola she brings the news that the U. S. steamship 
Crusader had arrived with a French bark having on board 422 
negroes in good order, after a passage of 45 days. Seven had died. 
The bark had a French captain and Spanish crew. At last accounts 
there were about 1,400 of the captured negroes at Key West. The 
Crusader intended leaving immediately for the coast. 

212 The Life and Services of 

The United States steamer Crusader, Lieut. Comdg. John N. 
Maffitt, came into Havana on the 29th from Key West. The Cru- 
sader on the afternoon of the 23d ult, off Cay Verde in the mouth 
of the old Bahama Channel, captured a bark having on board over 
five hundred negroes from the coast of Africa. The prize was 
placed in charge of Lieut. J. M. Duncan (first lieutenant of the 
Crusader), and under convoy of the steamer proceeded to Key 
West, where the slaves were landed, to join those previously cap- 
tured by the Wyandotte and Mohazvk. There are now over seven- 
teen hundred Africans at that place in charge of the United States 
Marshal, awaiting the action of our Government in the matter. 

The captain and crew of the slaver bark were prisoners on board 
the Crusader. Although the name of the vessel was obliterated, 
it was stated in Havana that she was the Bogota, belonging to New 

The courtesy and commiseration manifested by Captain Maffitt 
and the officers of the Crusader toward the captured Africans were 
the theme of particular commendation at Key West, and Havana. 

Captain Maffitt forwarded his dispatches and mail by the 
CaJiazvba and proceeded the same day to his cruising ground. The 
machinery of the Crusader is in bad order. 

Key West, May 25, i860. 

The cruise of the Crusader — Accident to her engines — The capture 
of the bark Bogota with five hundred Africans on board. 

My last to you was from Havana, where we went early in April 
to give the chief engineer an opportunity of repairing our frail 
engine. After the end of three days we started for our cruising 
ground on the north coast, and had commenced the cruise in real 
earnest when a clash in the engine-room that made the hull tremble 
announced some misfortune. Such was the fact — one of the fol- 
lower-bolts had broken in the port cylinder and caused the bursting 
of that left lung of the engine. To make a long story short, we 
made out to get into Key West, where a board of engineers sug- 
gested that the Crusader go home at once for repairs, but Captain 
Maffitt was determined that if anything could be done for even 
temporary duty the Crusader should not leave her station. 

Mr. Greier, the senior engineer, with skill, energy, and determi- 
nation succeeded in banding and jointing the cylinder in spite of 
what was deemed a "hopeless attempt to repair the injured lung." 

On the 13th the Crusader, with a saucy look, though by no means 
a sound constitution, steamed out of Kev West with the new screw 

John Newland Maffitt 213 

sloop-of-war Seminole. The Crusader held her own quite well, 
when it is remembered she could not "let out," for fear of bursting 
the patched cylinder. It is the general belief that the Crusader 
would have outsteamed the sloop-of-war had the engine been in 
working order. 

We parted company off "Key Sal," the Seminole heading to the 
northward and the Crusader darting off with flowing sheets to the 
southward and eastward. For seven days we encountered squally 
weather, but nevertheless kept up a strict blockade at the eastern 
entrance to the old Bahama Channel. Nothing was allowed to 
pass unexamined, and some sixty vessels were overhauled in one 
week — in fact all that passed. 

On Wednesday, the 23d, Captain Maffitt determined to antici- 
pate the arrival of vessels, so he started off toward Nuevitas ; but 
at 10 a. m. the work commenced in style. Vessel after vessel was 
chased, overhauled, and, being honest, passed. At twelve general 
suspicion was drawn toward a large bark some miles to the south- 
ward and eastward. Our hands were full, as the vessels were 
numerous and scattered over a large space, but Captain Maffitt 
concluded to try the character of the bark, so under English colors 
we bore down. She hoisted a tattered French flag, but the moment 
we rounded to and hoisted our own flag he lowered the French 
(which he had aloft only a few moments), tied it with his private 
papers to a forty-pound lead, and sunk them. We waited for him 
to show his flag, but he declined to do so. 

Lieutenant Duncan boarded him, asked for his papers and under 
what flag he sailed. "I have no papers, no flag, no name." "Then, 
sir, I am ordered to capture you." "I expect it, sir ; the risk was 
run for money and here it ends — in failure." 

At this moment the negroes rushed on deck in hundreds ; the 
boarding crew cheered, and from the anxious decks of the Cru- 
sader, the cheer was answered back most heartily. The admirable 
discipline of the Crusader was now conspicuous. Captain Maffitt 
ordered the prisoners brought on board. A prize crew was dis- 
patched and Lieutenants Duncan and Bonham and Mr. Kennedy 
were sent in charge. The negroes manifested the most frenzied 
delight, cheered, yelled, and clapped their hands; it seemed as if 
pandemonium was let loose; but in twenty minutes silence and 
order reigned, and, much to the astonishment of all hands, off 
darted the Crusader on another chase ending in the inspection of 
a transport. She returned and took her prize in tow for Key West. 
The prisoners stated that the Mohawk had passed them on Tues- 
dav. The captain saw her boarding vessels off Nuevitas. 

214 The Life and Services of 

The captain of the bark is apparently a Frenchman (he speaks 
English well), is of pleasant and gentlemanly deportment, with 
the amusing philosophy and sang froid of his race. When he 
came on board Captain Maffttt addressed him thus, "You declined 
to manifest your nationality, sir?" "I have no flag, no name, no 
papers; I am a slaver, sir, and now your prisoner." "Is that all 
you have to say in reference to this capture ?" "That is all, sir." 

The crew of the bark are rather heterogeneous in their appear- 
ance and nationality. One or two may be English or American ; 
but they are not going to "blab" anything, though they asked in 
the old Anglo-Saxon vernacular, "Where shall we get our grog, 

The captain and super-cargo were invited into the wardroom 
mess, and in a few hours were quite at home, laughing and talking 
as if it was a devilish good joke. Mr. Lewie, the super-cargo, 
resides near Paris, is a man of means, and has made several suc- 
cessful runs of Africans into Cuba. Of what nation he is no one 
can tell. He speaks English well and might be taken for a Yan- 
kee galvanized into a Frenchman or Spaniard, as circumstances 
might dictate. 

The negroes are in a fine healthy condition, and were purchased 
from the King of Dahomey at "Wydah." They were prisoners 
of war. 

A memorandum in Captain Mafntt's writing gives this list 
of slavers captured by him up to August 21, i860 — Echo, 
Bogota, Kibly, July 23, Young Antonio, a pirate, August 14, 

Another newspaper clipping in regard to the Crusader is 
headed : 

Seizure of the Forts by Order of the Governor. 

New Orleans, January 10, 1861. 
All the troops in New Orleans were under arms last night by order 
of Governor Moore — Five companies embarked this morning 
* * * to seize the arsenal at Baton Rouge — The Orleans 
Battalion Artillery and four companies embarked at eleven 
for Forts Jackson and St. Philip, forty miles below, on the 
Mississippi, commanding the approach to New Orleans — 
The wharf was crowded with citizens, who vociferously 
cheered the departure of the steamer — Three companies left 

John Newland Maffitt 215 

this afternoon on a steamer to seize Fort Pike on Lake Pont- 
chartrain — New regiments of troops are being organized — 
A rumor prevails that the war steamer Crusader is coming 
up the river, and the highest excitement prevails — Texas and 
Florida will also seize their fortifications — The troops in 
Mississippi and Tennessee are also arming — Eight hundred 
thousand dollars in specie arrived to-day from New York. 

The Gunboat "Crusader." 

Our previous accounts of the Crusader's movements were that 
she entered the harbor of Mobile on the 3d inst. and anchored off 
Dog River Harbor. She sailed from Pensacola, and her mission 
was to get a draft cashed for prize money due her complement on 
account of the sale of a slaver captured by her, this effected she 
was to sail without delay for her station on the coast of Cuba. 
Now she turns up below New Orleans. 

The following is a list of the officers of the Crusader: Lieu- 
tenant commanding, John N. Maffitt; first lieutenant, James M. 
Duncan ; second lieutenant, James E. Jewett ; third lieutenant, A. 
K. Benham ; master, B. R. Wallace ; surgeon, B. B. W. Greenhow ; 
first assistant engineer, Jno. A. Grier; third assistant engineers, 
L. Campbell, O. H. Lackey, P. A. Rearick; captain's clerk, Mr. 
Littlejohn; pursers clerk, Dehaven Wilson; masters mate, Mr. 

What a contrast this to the former visit of Lieutenant 
Maffitt which he mentions in his letter of November 4, 1859, 
stating that on account of the attention shown, "he had not 
had one day to himself." 

Below is a copy of a memorandum written for me by 
Captain Maffitt some years ago : 

In January, 1861, while in command of the U. S. steamer Cru- 
sader, I was ordered by the Secretary of the Navy to sail from 
Pensacola and proceed to Mobile and there cash a check on the 
Collector of the Port for the prize money due the officers and 
crew of the vessel under my command. The order was obeyed 
and the check presented, but some hesitation and delay was mani- 
fested in regard to cashing the Government check. 

The city was at the time much agitated by the ordinance of 
secession that had been adopted by the State of Alabama, and 
some feeling was aroused by the presence of the Government 

216 The Life and Services of 

steamer Crusader, and it soon became known to me that a band 
of desperadoes were organizing with the avowed object of assault- 
ing and capturing her. I immediately placed the steamer in a 
defensive position, got up steam and prepared for action. 

At an interview with Colonel Forsyth, the editor of the Mobile 
Register, and Colonel Murrell, also an influential citizen, I stated 
that if steamers approached me with hostile intent I would open 
my broadsides and sink them in fifteen minutes with every des- 
perado on board of them. 

This expression of my determination and the influence of Colonel 
Forsyth checked the projected scheme of capturing a National 
man-of-war and the intention was reluctantly abandoned. 

The money was paid and the Crusader departed to resume her 
old cruising ground for the capture of slavers who were prosti- 
tuting the American flag. 

On receiving orders to sail for New York, I proceeded to 
Havana, and through the American consul made an effort to nego- 
tiate with the Bank of Havana for funds required for the neces- 
sities of the vessel. 

In consequence of the disturbed state of our country, the nego- 
tiation failed and I was under the necessity of making use of my 
prize money for the requirements of the steamer. 

I arrived in New York and turned the vessel over to the proper 
authorities. I received an order to settle my accounts as acting 
paymaster of the vessel. 

My provision and clothing accounts were promptly balanced, 
but my cash account received no attention from the 4th Auditor, 
though for several months I was a constant applicant for a settle- 
ment, in order that I might be reimbursed for the necessities of 
my family. I think the balance due me and loaned to the Govern- 
ment should be paid. Of course I cannot now state the amount 
as my accounts were never audited, but held in abeyance in con- 
sequence (so I was informed) of my presumed secession pro- 

The steamer was in want of funds, and money could not be 
obtained, and I loaned the required amount to the Government. 

My duplicate accounts, which were in a trunk of valuables left 
in Charleston, were all burned up in the great Charleston fire, so 
there is nothing but my returns in the 4th Auditor's office to sub- 
stantiate my application. 

This letter shows that even then many had entered within 
the shadow of coming events : 

John Newland Maffitt 217 

U. S. Steamer "Crusader," 
Key West, January n, 1861. 

My Dear Florie : In the cabin of the Crusader I seize a moment 
of quiet to say God bless you. Your father has given me such 
agreeable accounts of his visit to you, that I can almost fancy I 
have just seen you and Mary. 

In these days of gloom, my dear girls, it is always pleasant to 
remember the sweet, young and fresh hearts of Florie and Mary — 
long may you live in the enjoyment of every happiness — may the 
perils which encompass our country never come near or disturb 
you — may no dark clouds shadow your journey through life, but 
at each turn of the road, brighter and brighter be your days. 

Impromptu do I write on this stray sheet of paper, but my 
heart's prayers may be wafted to you on the air which brings to 
me remembrance of other and cheerful days. 

Be assured, dear girls, of the affectionate remembrance of your 


T. Auys Craven, U. S. N. 


Passing of old life and loved associations — Resignation accepted — Extracts 
from private journal — Leaves Washington and starts South — Arrives 
in Montgomery and interviews Mr. Davis — Receives a lieutenant's 
commission with orders to report to Commodore Tatnall — Ordered to 
command the Savannah — Various proposals — Coming of Admiral 
Dupont's powerful fleet and battle of Port Royal, S. C. — Joins the staff 
of Gen. Robert E. Lee — Duties and Incidents — Letters home. 

And now we have reached that most trying and deplorable 
period in the history of the nation, and of the man of whose 
life and services this is a record. 

Devoted to his profession, which he has often assured me 
he loved better than life, with all its garnered treasures of 
association, of honors hardly won, and proudly borne, all its 
brilliant prospects, must not this man's soul have quailed at 
the necessity to which he felt compelled to yield, the necessity 
of resigning all and going forth, he knew not to what future? 
All of his means of livelihood, his property of every descrip- 
tion, he must leave behind when he gave his loyalty to the 

Not even the patriarch Abram faced such a crisis, when 
called upon to leave his home in the city of Ur of the Caldees, 
for he went out rich, carrying his treasures and his property 
with him. 

But there is no mention of this sacrifice, no reference what- 
ever to his feelings and his struggles (for he must have had 
such) in his private journal from which I am about to cull 
the following pages. 

From the statement of the Navy Register, furnished me, I 
copy a brief entry: "March i, 1861. — Detached and ordered 
to settle accounts. June 4, 1861. — Resignation accepted from 
May 2, 1861." 

John Newland Maffitt 219 

From Private Journal : 

Washington, April 13. — At 6 p. m. the news of Fort Sumter's 
fall was circulated and the excitement was intense. All Southerners 
were jubilant ; the Black Republicans gave vent to the most excess- 
ive expressions of indignation — yet but few fancied that there 
would be war between the North and the South— all seemed to 
think that a conference would take place, that unquestionably 
should put to rest all vexed questions, and the Union, through con- 
servatism thus be saved. 

Maryland was convulsed by internal dissension. The Union 
was popular until troops commenced passing through Baltimore 
on their way South, when Southern sentiment rose superior to the 
Union feeling and a regiment of soldiers from Massachusetts were 
mobbed on Pratt street. In four hours secession flags and badges, 
that had not been permitted ere this, were in general circulation, 
and the ladies particularly were conspicuous in their demonstration 
of Southern sentiments. 

Forts were falling into the hands of the Southerners, a Govern- 
ment was formed at Montgomery, Ala., and Jeff Davis elected 
President for the provisional year. 

President Lincoln called for 75,000 troops and the clouds began 
to gather, though occasional rays of sunshine gave hopes for the 

April 28, 1861. — I sent in my resignation this day. Found that 
I could not collect bonds due me, or yet transfer my property, 
packed up and made ready for a Southern course. On the iSth I 
had started my children to Charleston on a visit to my brother-in- 
law, John Laurens, from thence to proceed to "Ellerslie," near 
Fayetteville, North Carolina, where their home would be in the 
family of my cousin, Mrs. Eliza Hybart. 

Washington was full of soldiers and the roll of artillery wagons 
could be heard day and night as battery after battery entered the 
city. Still, no one, even after the fall of Sumter, seemed to antici- 
pate that a great revolution was at hand. The abolitionists were 
vindictive and vented their sentiments right and left. Southern 
families were ,daily departing and resignations from the Army 
and Navy were daily announced in language of gall and bitterness. 

About this time the New York Herald turned a complete somer- 
sault — in one day it changed from ultra Southern to the most 
uncompromising Administration paper. Fear of the New York 
mood, for the "flag fever," was reaching a height of perfect 

220 The Life and Services of 

April 29. — The Government had now commenced to taboo those 
suspected of Southern proclivities, and secret arrests were being' 
made. Being informed by a reliable friend that my name was 
on the list of those who were to be arrested, I concluded that 
my property had to take care of itself, and I made my arrange- 
ments to secretly depart. 

May 2. — I managed through the kindly feeling of a Federal 
officer to pass over the Long Bridge, which was carefully guarded 
by a battery and company of artillery. How 'twas done becomes 
me not to state even in a private journal — but this much I will 
say, the officer who befriended me did not imagine that hostilities 
would occur. In a brief time he lost his battery and was captured 
at Bull Run. 

I remained in Alexandria all night, and on the morning of the 
3d of May I started for Richmond and arrived in Montgomery on 
the 7th. 

In an interview with Mr. Davis, in which I offered my services 
to the Confederacy, he informed me that the South did not con- 
template creating a Navy, and on my asking the pertinent ques- 
tion why then were naval officers invited to resign their positions 
in the United States Navy and join the Confederacy, his answer 
was that they could join the Army. Mr. Davis said, "Our friends 
at the North assure us that there will be no war." I replied by 
giving him a description of the troops which I myself had seen 
pouring into Washington, and also informed him that the roll of 
the artillery went on day and night. 

So unsatisfactory did this interview prove, and so discouraged 
was I, that I went to the hotel to pack my trunk for Europe. 
Upon this scene came with haste Robert Toombs, Ben Hill, and 
others, who came direct from seeing Mr. Davis, and who insisted 
that I reconsider my determination, and assured me that the Con- 
federacy could not afford to lose my services. I finally received a 
lieutenant's commission, with orders to report to Commodore Tat- 
nall at Savannah, Georgia. 

General Beauregard had politely invited me to join his staff, 
but much to my regret the Secretary refused the permission. 

I was pained to find that the Cabinet was injudiciously selected. 
Mr. Walker, as Secretary of War, fell far short of the require- 
ments of his important office. Of all positions that most required 
energy, knowledge, and promptness of conception, the office of 
Secretary of War surely was paramount. But not a member of 
the Government anticipated war — not one ; hence there was short- 
sighted policy and a lack of action, that distressed those who, 
recently from the North, had witnessed the great gatherings 

John New land Maffitt 221 

and the tremendous exertions of the Navy Department for the 
occasion. Unfortunately for the Navy, Mr. Davis was not 
impressed with the necessity of building ships and preparing the 
South at a time when economy and success could have been 
secured. The Confederate Government was anxious for a peaceful 
separation, and the wish was father to the thought — consequently, 
but little energy was manifested for a struggle, while at the North 
all was activity and practical application of immense means. 

Mr. Mallory was placed at the head of the Navy Department, 
in marked opposition to the sentiment of the people. The Senate 
— a provisional Congress — repeatedly rejected his nomination on 
the grounds of inability for the office ; but Captains Rosseau, Tat- 
nall, and Ingraham indorsed him, and their judgment eventually 
biased the Congressional vote. The puerile attempt to improvise 
a Navy is a part of the melancholy history of our mistakes. 

In The United Service Magazine for October, 1880, Captain 
Maffitt writes :* 

As if by magic, the city [Montgomery] became thronged with 
military aspirants ; martial music resounded through the streets, 
as volunteer companies from adjacent towns and counties marched 
to the fair-ground, which was soon transformed into a field of 

All arrangements connected with the military status of the Con- 
federacy appeared to move in a smooth and even groove, pro- 
pelled, as it were, by the natural proclivities of the people; but 
when the question of the inauguration of a Navy was propounded, 
the Government instantly seemed to be at sea without rudder, 
compass, or charts by which to steer upon the bewildering ocean 
of absolute necessity. 

Many of the States, as they severally withdrew from the old 
Union, had established provisional State navies. The Governors 
of each State, by authority of their legislatures, purchased such 
small river steamers and tug-boats as were obtainable, armed 
them with one gun each, and placed them in charge of such 
ex-naval officers as had resigned from the Federal Navy. When 
the Confederacy assumed its functions as an inaugurated gov- 
ernment, the States transferred their troops and provisional navies 
to the same, and officers and vessels were enrolled upon the official 
Naval Register. 

As an exclusively agricultural community, the South had hitherto 
depended upon the North for all her maritime necessities, and this 

*"Reminiscences of the Confederate Navy," John N. Maffitt. 

222 The Life and Services of 

commercial sectionality left her, as a natural consequence, without 
seamen, machine-shops, ship-yards, or any of those accessories 
upon which nautical enterprise depends. These serious obstacles, 
with the aid of intelligent naval officers, could, for general prac- 
tical purposes, have been surmounted. The Confederacy called 
for the naval sons of the South, and promptly — with but few excep- 
tions — the call was responded to by educated and efficient gentle- 
men, who severed their connection with the Federal service at 
great personal as well as professional sacrifice. 

Dire necessity soon coerced the Government into placing some 
force upon our threatened waters, and the Secretary of the Navy 
was under the necessity of obtaining such steamers as could be 
purchased in open market. The vessels thus obtained were of the 
most fragile character, generally consisting of old dilapidated tug- 
boats and flimsy passenger steamers, sans speed, sans ability to 
support suitable ordnance. All were purchased at speculative 
prices, and at much exceeding the cost of constructing (at the 
favorable period) substantial and efficient gunboats. A brief 
experience, coupled with mortifications, convinced the Navy 
Department that steamers built for commercial purposes were not 
in the least calculated for the necessities of war. Contracts were 
accordingly entered into at New Orleans and other places for 
the construction of proper war vessels. 

I again quote from the journal : 

On May 9 I arrived in Savannah and was ordered to com- 
mand the Savannah, recently a passenger boat by the inland route 
to Jackson, Florida. A more absurd abortion for a man-of-war 
was rarely witnessed, and the Sampson (old tug), Resolute (old 
tug - ), and Lady Davis (iron tug), were like unto the flag-ship. 

When called upon for my opinion T unhesitatingly condemned 
the whole squadron, save as provisional guard-boats, and sug- 
gested that vessels of proper capacity should be at once built and 

On the 6th of June I was sent to Norfolk for guns to mount 
on the squadron, and was also instructed to send thirty to Beaure- 
gard, who then commanded at Charleston, South Carolina. I 
obtained thirty-six 32-pounders and stores for Tatnall's squadron. 

T visited, with Colonel Withers of Mobile, Alabama, the dif- 
ferent batteries, and concluded that Norfolk was well defended. 
( reneral Huger assumed command. There was no building at the 
Yard, though the Mem' mac was in duck for repairs. 

John Newland Maffitt 223 

Throughout the South a kind of desultory style of defense was 
in progress, but nothing commensurate to our necessities and the 
crisis that was evidently approaching. The Yankees were held 
too much in contempt — great stress was laid on the recognition 
of the Confederacy by the necessities of Europe, a delusive hope 
pregnant with misfortune. The moral sentiment of the world is 
against us on the question of slavery, and though cotton has its 
power, I very much fear that we will ere long become convinced 
that 'tis not regal — we must achieve our independence and alone. 

I made various proposals: ist, To destroy New York Navy 
Yard — not difficult at the period. (No favor shown it.) 2d, I 
suggested the importance of running in large quantities of arms, 
clothing, stores, shoes, provisions, etc., as the blockade was not 
as permanently established as it unquestionably would be. (No!) 
3d, To purchase in England and France propellers with powerful 
engines, to be used as gunboats, to be built at once and adapted 
to our waters. (No.) 4th, To turn the ship Thompson (a prize), 
of 1,200 tons, into a floating ironclad battery for Port Royal and 
to separate the guns of the two forts, so as to spread them along 
the line of beach, that the enemy in the event of assault would 
not have so small a focus on which to concentrate their fire. 
(Agreed to when too late!) 

During the summer much sickness prevailed in the squadron — 
mostly swamp fevers of the worst character. 

The vessels made frequent inland cruises and always gave evi- 
dence of their total inability to meet the Federal gunboats with 
prospect of success. 

In the article before referred to in The United Service for 
October, 1880, Captain Maffitt writes: 

Early in October of 1861 information of the fitting out of a 
powerful fleet under Commodore Dupont, particular destination 
then unknown, reached Richmond. Shortly after this President 
Davis received a private dispatch notifying him that its destina- 
tion was Port Royal, South Carolina. This information was 
conveyed to Commodore Tatnall, whose headquarters was at 
Savannah, his command embracing Port Royal and Charleston. 

The Secretary of War in ample time had ordered the construc- 
tion of two forts for the defense of Port Royal, one on Hilton 
Head, to be called Fort Walker, the other, a secondary fort across 
the harbor on Bay Point, to be called Fort Beauregard. The con- 
struction of these works had been reprehensibly procrastinated 

224 The Life and Services of 

until the ninth hour, when, in haste and confusion, raw troops, 
strangers to any ordnance above a 12-pound field-piece, were hur- 
ried into the imperfectly constructed earthworks to battle without 
drill or target practice against a masterly array of force. 

The excuse offered by the commanding general for neglecting 
to exercise and familiarize his artillerists with target drill was the 
scarcity of ammunition. The Commodore replied, "Half the allow- 
ance spent in practice will more likely insure good results for the 
balance in fighting." 

On the afternoon of the 3d of November it was reported from 
the mast-head that the ocean was covered with ships and steamers. 
Commodore Tatnall immediately stood toward the bar for the 
purpose of making a reconnaissance. For several days the Fed- 
erals were employed in buoying out the channel, preparatory to 
their grand attack. On the 7th Commodore Dupont, in the frigate 
Wabash, mounting forty-four heavy Dahlgren guns, steamed up 
the bay, followed in close order by the frigates Susquehanna and 
Pocahontas, with the sloops-of-war Vandalia, Seminole, Mohican, 
Pawnee, Madilla, Ottaiva, Seneca, Pembina, Augusta, Bienville, 
Curlew, Penguin, Isaac Smith, Forbes, Vixen, and others, the 
heavy batteries of the fleet amounting to two hundred and fifteen 

As farcical as it appears, and was, the mosquito squadron of 
the brave Tatnall absolutely had the temerity to engage the enemy. 
His flag-ship consisted of an old passenger St. John's steamer, 
mounting one 32-pound gun forward and one 18-pound gun aft. 
Then came two ancient, used-up tug-boats, each mounting one 32- 
pound gun ; the next, a rotten North River cattle-boat, mounting 
one 18-pound gun; a dwarfish tugboat from the James River 
slightly armed, bringing up the rear. A partial broadside from 
the Wabash scattered this diminutive fleet, and one of her 11 -inch 
shells entered the mail-room of the flag-ship, but fortunately did 
not explode. The gallant old Triton, with a humorous expression 
of countenance, remarked to his flag captain, "that under the 
accumulation of circumstances discretion was the better part of 
valor, and they had best retire, and, like Micawber, 'wait for some- 
thing to turn up.' " 

Of course success was out of the question, — the colossal force 
of the Federals insured their success, — and Port Royal after a 
brave defense by the forts of four hours, fell into the possession 
of the enemy. 

Tatnall's fleet, after rendering efficient service to the defeated 
soldiers in their retreat, passed through Skull Creek, and soon 
anchored in the harbor of Savannah. The immortal flotilla was 

John Newland Maffitt 225 

consigned to harbor defense during the rest of the war, as Fort 
Pulaski, which commanded the entrance to the river, was soon 
after captured by the Federals. 

In December the enemy had all the harbors of Florida, Georgia, 
and South Carolina, save Charleston. 

About the eleventh of November I joined the start ot Uen. 
Robert E. Lee, and went to his headquarters at Coosawhatchie, 
South Carolina. My special duties were mapping the roads, build- 
ing forts, and obstructing the Coosaw River. _ 

Many interesting events personal to myself occurred during my 
very agreeable association with General Lee, but as they were 
o-enerally comical and not in consonance with my present feelings 
of sadness and despondency, I do not feel the inclination to record 

In happier mood beside our fireside at the "Moorings" I 
have heard Captain Maffitt relate these experiences, of one 
or two of which memory retains the facts, but not the 
inimitable humor with which they were recounted. 

He was one night returning to camp from a reconnaissance, 
riding a horse tall, raw-boned, and noted more for the size 
of his feet and heavy build than for his speed, when he was 
arrested by a sentinel's call to halt and give the countersign. 
Not having received it, and being very anxious to reach head- 
quarters, as the night was bitter cold, he tried to conciliate 
his obstructionist, but at the least movement which he made 
to get nearer, his friend would sing out, "Whoa up, or I'll 
fotch ye down !" 

"How is it at camp now, friend ?" he would essay. 

"A little measley and a little mumpy," was the gruff reply, 

Finally the captain of the guard arrived and the situation 
was relieved. 

One day a report was made that a troop of the enemy had 
landed and were occupying the residence of a planter across 
the river, and plans were made to dislodge them. A company 
was detailed and in the silence of a moonlight night the 
advance was begun. A courier was sent ahead to reconnoiter. 
He soon returned, and reported that the enemy were evidently 
in possession, as he could indistinctly see their shadows a 

226 The Life and Services of 

they moved across the lawn, and could hear their tramp upon 
the piazza. A consultation was held and the order was given 
to advance cautiously across the bridge on hands and knees 
and gain the cover of the trees on the other side. This was 
done, and soon some distance away could be heard the tramp 
of many feet and indistinctly shadows were seen moving 
among the trees on the lawn in front of the house. The order 
was hastily given to fire, and a volley of musketry awakened 
the echoes, when the baa ! baa ! of a number of goats rent the 
air, and accounted for their supposed foes. With chagrin 
they hastily retreated, and none was in haste to report at head- 

When the officers would exert themselves to secure a good 
turkey, or some tempting dish for the General's table, he would 
invariably send the repast to the hospital and remark, "Bacon 
and corn bread are good enough for well men." To return to 
the journal : 

The troops were raw, badly clad, and almost without organiza- 
tion. In truth, such was the inefficient state of affairs in regard 
to law, discipline, and drill, that my misgivings were seriously 
awakened as to our ability to hold the Charleston and Savannah 

General Pemberton arrived, and his energetic assistance to 
General Lee soon produced improvements, and hope dawned. 

Letter from Lieutenant Maffitt to his children : 

Coosawhatchie, South Carolina, 

December 20, 1861. 
My Dear Girls : I am well, hard at work, and my duty is of 
a general character — surveying, erecting batteries, placing obstruc- 
tions, etc. I have not resigned from the Navy, but am Naval Aide 
to General Lee — on temporary duty as such until all is arranged 
here for a general defense. I am much pleased thus far, and my 
efforts are highly appreciated. Laurens [his step-son] is with me. 
The young gentleman is having his old iron worked up finely ! 
Truly he has not had time to write. Eugene* [his son] says he 

*These two young men, Eugene Maffitt and Laurens Read, were in the 
battle of Port Royal. 

John Newland Maffitt 227 

has written to you, and I hope that you have received the letter. 
The mails are very irregular. My letters (one to Johnnie also) 
should long ere this have been replied to. I lost much by the 
destruction of your Uncle John's house [in the Charleston fire] — 
clothes, books, important papers, accounts ; and Laurens all except 
what he had on; 'tis a terrible loss to your uncle and aunt — they 
saved nothing. 

Give my love to Cousin Eliza and tell her she has not said one 
word about Mary and the school. The time approaches. 

Have no news. Am very much engaged. Kiss the little ones 
for me. With love to all, 

I am your devoted father, 

J. N. M. 


Ordered to the C. S. steamer Cecile, blockade-runner — Extracts from his 
article on blockade-running in The United Service Magazine — Estab- 
lishment of blockade-running — Passing the blockaders by the Cecile — 
Their phantom forms suddenly appear — The moment of trial — Blaze of 
drummond-light and roar of guns and bursting shells — Perils of position 
— Cecile escapes — Chased by U. S. Steamer — Arrival at and depar- 
ture from Nassau on return trip — Fired upon by three Federal men-of- 
war — Passing out of range, is called on deck by call of burning vessel — 
Goes to rescue — While passing between two blockaders is ordered to 
heave-to, but escapes — Ordered to command the Nassau (late Gordon). 

I quote from his journal the following : 

On January 7 I was ordered to the steamer Cecile to run the 
blockade and bring in arms, ammunition, stores, etc., for the 

Yielding to the many importunities of friends interested in 
the subject, Captain Maffitt prepared for publication in The 
United Service Magazine for June and July, 1882, the follow- 
ing description of his experience in "blockade-running" : 

As the war between the States expanded into gigantic propor- 
tions, it became manifest that great as was the ingenuity and 
industry unexpectedly developed by the people of the South, they 
were nevertheless totally inadequate to supply the increased mili- 
tary demands. The pressure on the Government at Richmond 
occasioned deep anxiety and uneasiness that could not be concealed. 

At this important crisis the public-spirited mercantile firm of 
Frazier, Trenholm & Co., of Charleston, South Carolina, promptly 
came to the rescue. They possessed a number of swift steamers 
which were employed in running the blockade for commercial 
purposes. Influenced by patriotic zeal, these vessels were imme- 
diately employed in introducing supplies for the support and equip- 
ment of the armies of the Confederacy. This relief was most 



John Newland Maffitt 229 

From Virginia to Texas every port was being blockaded by the 
Federal Navy. The North was detern^ned to dethrone "King 
Cotton," and nullify his ability to aid the Confederacy with credit 
abroad for the purchase of materials of war. This important 
Southern staple was bread to millions of Englishmen, who beheld 
with consternation its confinement to America. Prices were 
advancing, work falling off, and wages declining. The murmurs 
of the poor heralded the season of distress, that precursor of 
hunger and cold, with those attending diseases that are born of 

In the Confederacy cotton abounded; few could purchase with 
prospects of exportation. Here it sold for three pence the pound, 
and brought in England from two shillings and three pence to 
two shillings and eight pence, realizing a gross profit of about 
fifty-eight or sixty cents. A steamer with the average capacity of 
eight hundred bales often netted on the round trip about four 
hundred and twenty thousand dollars. These fabulous profits, 
coupled with the increasing demand, excited not only the cupidity, 
but characteristic enterprise of British merchants. In less than 
eight months after the inception of hostilities and closing of Con- 
federate ports, the ship-yards of England and Scotland were 
actively engaged in the construction of suitable steamers for 
blockade-running. In a brief time the harbors of Bermuda and 
Nassau swarmed with sky-colored vessels eagerly seeking pilots 
and adventurous seamen to assist in transporting desirable cargoes 
into Dixie. Thus as an institution blockade-running was estab- 

In the hands of foreigners it proved in some respects injurious. 
The in cargoes were usually paid for with Confederate currency 
and by the blockaders changed into gold at enormous discount, 
thereby producing a perceptible depreciation in the status of our 
money. Many adventurous speculators made fortunes, while others 
again came to grief. Notwithstanding the difficulties and extreme 
hazards attending these ventures, cotton, with its magnetic power, 
attracted constant supplies for the war, and enabled our armies 
to maintain a bold and oft successful opposition to the splendidly 
equipped men of the North. 

In consequence of my knowledge of the Southern coast, I was 
ordered to command one of these steamers, the Cecile, offered 
to the Government by Frazier, Trenholm & Co. She was reported 
to be unusually fast, and could stow to advantage about seven 
hundred bales of cotton. With the cargo on board we departed 
from Wilmington and before sunset anchored off the village of 
Smithville. Twilight afforded an excellent opportunity to recon- 

230 The Life and Services of 

noiter the enemy. They were numerous and assumed their stations 
with an air of vigilance that seemed to announce the channel as 
hermetically sealed for the night. The prospects afforded no joyful 
anticipations of a pleasant exit. 

As it was necessary to bide the movements of the moon, her 
sluggishness in retiring for the night was regarded with con- 
siderable impatience. At last her royal majesty, over the margin 
of the western horizon, tips us a knowing wink and disappears. 
We improve the hint and get under way. In silence Caswell is 
passed, and a dim glimpse of Fort Campbell affords a farewell 
view of Dixie, as the steamer's head is turned seaward through 
the channel. The swelling greetings of the Atlantic billows 
announce that the bar is passed ; over the cresting waves the 
good craft swiftly dashes, as if impatient to promptly face her 
trials of the night. Through the settled darkness all eyes on 
board are peering, eagerly straining to catch a view of the dreaded 
sentinels who sternly guard the tabooed channel. Nothing white 
is exposed to view ; every light is extinguished, save those that 
are hooded in the binnacle and engine-room. No sound disturbs 
the solemn silence of the moment but the dismal moaning of the 
northeast wind and unwelcome, but unavoidable, dashing of our 

Night-glasses scan the bleared horizon for a time in vain ; sud- 
denly an officer with bated breath announces several steamers. 
Eagerly pointing he reports two at anchor and others slowly 
cruising. Instantly out of the gloom and spoondrift emerges the 
somber phantom form of the blockading fleet. The moment of 
trial is at hand ; firmness and decision are essential for the emer- 
gency. Dashing between the two at anchor, we pass so near as 
to excite astonishment at our non-discovery ; but this resulted from 
the color of our hull, which, under certain stages of the atmos- 
phere, blended so perfectly with the haze as to render the steamer 
nearly invisible. 

How keenly the grim hulls of the enemy are watched ! how taut, 
like harp-strings, every nerve is strung, anxiously vibrating with 
each pulsation of the throbbing heart ! We emerge to windward 
from between the two at anchor. 

"Captain," whispered the pilot, "according to my chop logic 
them chaps aren't going to squint us this blessed night." 

Ere a response could be uttered a broad-spread flash of intense 
light blazed from the flag's drummond, for in passing to wind- 
ward the noise of our paddles betrayed the proximity of a blockade- 
runner. "Full speed!" I shouted to the engineer. Instantly the 
increased revolutions responded to the order. Then came the roar 

John Newland Maffitt 231 

of heavy guns, the howl of shot, and scream of bursting shells. 
Around, above, and through the severed rigging the iron demons 
howled, as if pandemonium had discharged its infernal spirits into 
the air. 

Under the influence of a terrible shock the steamer quivers with 
aspen vibrations. An explosion follows ; she is struck ! 

"What is the damage ?" I ask. 

"A shell, sir, has knocked overboard several bales of cotton and 
wounded two of the crew," was the response of the boatswain. 

By the sheen of the drummond-lights the sea is so clearly illumi- 
nated as to exhibit the perils of our position, and show the group- 
ing around us of the fleet, as their batteries belched forth a hail- 
storm of angry missiles, threatening instant annihilation. 

In the turmoil of excitement a frightened passenger, contrary 
to orders, invaded the bridge. Wringing his hands in agony, he 
implored me to surrender and save his life and the lives of all 
on board. Much provoked, I directed one of our quartermasters 
stationed near me to take the lubber below. Without ceremony 
he seized the unhappy individual, and as he hurried him to the 
cabin, menacingly exclaimed, "Shut up your fly-trap, or by the 
powers of Moll Kelly I'll hould ye up as a target for the divarsion 
of them Yankee gunners !" 

As perils multiplied, our Mazeppa speed increased and gradually 
withdrew us from the circle of danger. At last we distance the 
party. Spontaneously the crew give three hearty cheers as a relief 
to their pent-up anxiety, and every one began to breathe more 

During the night we were subjected to occasional trials of speed, 
to avoid suspicious strangers whose characters could not be deter- 
mined. In fact, nothing in the shape of a steamer was to be trusted, 
as we entertained the belief that Confederates were Ismaelites upon 
the broad ocean — the recipients of no man's courtesy. 

Day dawned upon one of ocean's most beautiful mornings ; the 
soft blue sky circled the bluer horizon, and over the broad 
expanse a profound calm settled upon the sleeping waters. IL 
seemed difficult to realize that such serenity was ever tortured 
into the most wild and terrific commotion by the rude storms 
and hurricanes that often held high revelry, where now not a 
ruffled wave appeared or a gentle ripple bleared the mirrored sur- 
face. Solitary and alone we pursued our voyage, flattered with 
the hope that it would terminate without interruption. At four 
in the afternoon we were aroused from this felicitous reverie by 
the familiar cry from the mast-head of "Sail ho !" 

"Can you make her out ?" was the official interrogatory. 

232 The Life and Services of 

"Yes, sir, a large steamer heading for us." 

Our course was immediately changed; so was that of the 
stranger. When she was reported we were engaged in over- 
hauling the engines and cleaning fires. Of course our speed under 
these circumstances was inconsiderable, and the steamer neared 
us without difficulty. Annoyingly soon the old flag was recog- 
nized, — in former days a welcome banner, — and the chase com- 
menced. Night approaches in a royal blazonry of gold and crim- 
son, and the sun sinks below the horizon, leaving a brief twilight 
to light up the scene of contest. Some derangement of our engines 
depletes our speed, and the unpleasant knowledge causes the ther- 
mometer of hope to fall below zero. Perplexed and annoyed, I 
debated the expediency of relieving the vessel by throwing over- 
board a portion of her cargo. Fortunately, a happy thought came 
to my mind. Promptly acting upon the mental suggestion, I 
sent for the chief engineer, and inquired if he had a quantity of 
coal dust convenient. 

"I have, sir," was the response. 

"Be ready in fifty minutes to feed with it, and have at hand 
clean fuel that will not smoke. The order will be given in due 

In the darkness of night a chasing vessel is guided by the smoke 
of the fleeing craft. The fact was familiar from experience, and 
at the proper moment I availed myself of the acquired knowledge. 
The enemy held his own, though at times we thought he gained 
upon us. At length I directed the engineer to give a liberal appli- 
cation of coal dust, and instantly dense volumes of sooty vapor 
rolled out of the funnels and traveled on the bosom of the north- 
east wind to the southward and westward. By the aid of good 
glasses we were charmed to observe that the bait had been swal- 
lowed, as the Federals steadily pursued our bank of smoke. When 
this became obvious, clean coal was applied that emitted no tell- 
tale evidence of our position. The course was changed to the 
northward and eastward, and the enemy left to capture the Con- 
federate's shadow. This successful ruse excited much hilarity 
and considerable laughter over what was considered "a cute trick." 

At sunrise, entering the friendly port of Nassau, we were warmly 
greeted by many friends — by none more vociferously than the 
sons of Africa. The cargo was promptly landed and the return 
freight received on board. 

We are ready to depart ; friends bid us farewell with lugubrious 
indulgence of fears for our safety, as the hazards of blockade- 
running had recently increased in consequence of the accumulated 
force and vigilance of the enemy. 

John Newland Maffitt 233 

Discarding all gloomy prognostications, at dusk we left the 
harbor. Before break of day Abaco light was sighted, a place 
of especial interest to Federal cruisers as the turning-point for 
blockade-runners. At the first blush of day we were startled 
by the close proximity of three Federal men-of-war. Not the 
least obeisance made they, but with shot and shell paid the early 
compliments of the morning. 

The splintering spars and damaged bulwarks warned us of 
the urgent necessity for traveling, particularly as nine hundred 
barrels of gunpowder constituted a portion of our cargo. A 
chance shell exploding in the hold would have consigned steamer 
and all hands to Tophet. We were in capital running condition, 
and soon passed out of range. Tenaciously our pursuers held on 
to the chase, though it was evident that the fleet Confederate 
experienced no difficulty in giving them the go-by. In the zenith 
of our enjoyment of a refreshing sense of relief, the old cry of 
"Sail ho !" came from aloft. The lookout announced two steamers 
ahead and standing for us. A system of zigzag running became 
necessary to elude the persistent enemy. Our speed soon accom- 
plished this object. In about three hours the Federals faded under 
the horizon, and our proper course for the Cape Fear was resumed. 
Those who needed repose retired for the indulgence. My relaxa- 
tion from official cares was of brief duration, as a gruff voice 
called out, "Captain, a burning vessel is reported from aloft, sir." 

Repairing on deck, by the aid of a spy-glass I could distinctly 
see, some four miles ahead, a vessel enveloped in smoke. Though 
not ourselves the subjects of charity, nevertheless we were human, 
and as seamen cherished the liveliest sympathy for the unfortu- 
nate who came to sorrow on God's watery highway. Regard- 
less of personal interest, your true Jack Tar scorns the role of 
Pharisee and prides himself upon the Samaritan proclivities that 
fail not to succor the sufferer by the wayside. 

Increasing our speed, we quickly ran quite near the burning 
vessel. She proved to be a Spanish bark, with ensign at half-mast. 
Out of her fore hatch arose a dense smoke. Abaft were clustered 
a panic-stricken group of passengers and crew. Among them 
several ladies were observed. An ineffectual effort had been made 
to hoist out the long-boat, which was still suspended by the yard 
and stay-tackles. 

Sending an officer aloft to keep a sharp lookout that we might 
not be surprised by the enemy while engaged in succoring the 
unfortunate, the chief mate was dispatched in the cutter to render 
such assistance as his professional intelligence might suggest. He 
found the few passengers, among whom were four ladies, much 

234 The Life and Services of 

calmer than the officers and crew ; the latter, in place of endeavor- 
ing to extinguish the fire, which had broken out in the forecastle 
apartment, were confusedly hauling upon the stay-tackle in a vain 
effort to launch the long-boat. Our mate, with his boat's crew, 
passed the jabbering, panic-stricken Spaniards, and proceeded at 
once to the forecastle, which he instantly deluged with water, and, 
to the astonishment of all hands, speedily subdued the trifling 
conflagration, which proved to have resulted from the burning of 
a quantity of lamp rags that had probably been set on fire by one 
of the crew who carelessly emptied his pipe when about to repair 
on deck. The quantity of old duds that lay scattered about Jack's 
luxuriously furnished apartment supplied abundant materials for 
raising a dense smoke, but the rough construction of the vessel in 
this locality fortunately offered nothing inflammable, and the great 
sensation, under the influence of a cool head, soon subsided into a 

The mate, who was much of a wag, enjoyed the general per- 
turbation of the passengers, particularly on learning that three 
of the ladies hailed from Marblehead, and were returning from a 
visit made to an uncle who owned a zvcll-stockcd sugar plantation 
near Sagua Le Grand, in Cuba. A Spanish vessel bound to 
Halifax had been selected to convey them to a British port con- 
venient for transportation to New York or Boston, without the 
risk of being captured by Confederate "buccaneers," who, accord- 
ing to Cuban rumors, "swarmed over the ocean, and were 
decidedly anthropophagous in their proclivities." 

A hail from the steamer caused our mate to make his adieu, 
but not before announcing himself as one of the awful Southern 
slave-holders they had in conversation anathematized. They would 
not believe that so kind and polite a gentleman could possibly be 
a wicked "rebel." "But I am, ladies, and also a slave-owner, as 
is your uncle — farewell." Instead of manifesting anger at the 
retort, they laughed heartily, and waved their handkerchiefs in 
kind adieu, utterly unsuspicious of having received kindness and 
courtesy from a blockade-runner. We made the best of speed on 
our way to Wilmington. 

The following day — our last at sea — proved undisturbed and 
pleasant. At sunset the bar bore west-northwest seventy miles 
distant. It would be high water at half-past eleven, the proper 
time for crossing. Sixty miles I determined to dash off at full 
speed, and then run slowly for meeting and disentangling our- 
selves from the fleet. 

None but the experienced can appreciate the difficulties that 

John Newland Maffitt 235 

perplexed the navigator in running for Southern harbors during 
the war. The usual facilities rendered by light-houses and beacons 
had ceased to exist, having been dispensed with by the Con- 
federate Government as dangerous abettors of contemplated mis- 
chief by the blockaders. 

Success in making the destined harbors depended upon exact 
navigation, a knowledge of the coast, its surroundings and cur- 
rents, a fearless approach, and banishment of the subtle society 
of John Barleycorn. Non-experts too often came to grief, as the 
many hulks on the Carolina coast most sadly attest. 

Under a pressure of steam we rushed ahead, annihilating space, 
and melting with exciting fancy hours into minutes. Our celerity 
shortens the distance, leaving only ten miles between us and the 
bar. With guiding lead, slowly and carefully we feel our way. 

"Captain," observed the sedulous chief officer, as he strove to 
peer through the hazy atmosphere, "it seems to me from our 
soundings that we should be very near the blockaders. Don't you 
think so?" 

"I do," was my response. "Hist ! there goes a bell, — one, two, 
three, four, five, six, seven, — half past eleven, — a decidedly good 
calculation, and it is high water on the bar. By Jove ! there are 
two directly ahead of us, and I think both are at anchor. Doubt- 
less others are cruising around these indicators of the channel." 

I ordered the helm put hard a-starboard, directing the wheels- 
man to run between the two blockaders, as it was too late to sheer 
clear of either. Through a bank of clouds huge grim objects 
grew distinctly into view, and necessity forced me to run the 
gantlet, trusting against hope that our transit would not arouse 
their vigilance. They were alert weasels, for a sparkling, hissing 
sound was instantly followed by the fiery train of a rocket, suc- 
ceeded by the dreaded calcium light, with a radiance so brilliant, 
though brief, as to illuminate distinctly an area of miles. 

"Heave to, or I'll sink you !" shouted a gruff, imperious voice, 
so near that we could fancy his speaking trumpet projected over 
the steamer. 

"Aye, aye, sir!" was the prompt response, and to the horror 
of all on board I gave the order in a loud tone, "Stop the engine !" 

Then was heard the boatswain's whistle, the calling away of 
cutters, and the tramping of boats' crews. Our impetus had caused 
the steamer to nearly emerge from between the Federals. 

"Back your engine, sir, and stand by to receive my boats !" 
said the same stern voice. 

236 The Life and Services of 

Affirmatively acknowledging the command, I whispered loud 
enough for the engineer to hear me, "Full speed ahead, sir, and 
open wide your throttle-valve !" 

The movements of the paddles for a moment deceived the Fed- 
eral commander into the belief that we were really backing, but 
speedily comprehending the maneuver, with very fierce execrations 
he gave the order to fire. Drummond-lights were burned, doubt- 
less to aid the artillerists, but so radiated the mist as to raise our 
hull above the line of vision, causing the destructive missiles to 
play hob with the sparse rigging, instead of shattering our hull, 
and probably exploding the nine hundred barrels of gunpowder 
with which General Johnston afterward fought the battle of Shiloh. 
It certainly was a miraculous escape for both blockader and 

We paused not recklessly, but at the rate of sixteen knots abso- 
lutely flew out of unhealthy company, who discourteously followed 
us with exploding shells, and for some time kept up such a 
fusillade as to impress us with the belief that the blockaders had 
inaugurated a "Kilkenny cat muddle," and were polishing off each 
other; a supposition I afterward learned was partially correct. 

The breakers warned us of danger, and the smooth water indi- 
cated the channel, through which we passed in safety, and at one 
o'clock in the morning we anchored off the venerable village of 
Smithville. Then came the mental and physical reaction, pro- 
ducing a feeling of great prostration, relieved by the delightful 
realization of having passed through the fiery ordeal in safety and 

"If after every tempest come such calms, 
May the winds blow till they have wakened death ; 
And let laboring barks climb hills of seas 
Olympus high ! and duck again as low 
As hell's from heaven." 

After sunrise we proceeded in all haste to Wilmington, where 
our cargo was quickly discharged. Having obtained our return 
cargo, in company with two other blockade-runners, I started for 
Nassau, and although the sentinels of the bar presented me with 
affectionate souvenirs in the way of shot and shell, they did but 
little damage. My companions came to grief, thereby adding 
to the prize fund that was shared by the Government with the 
officers of the blockade squadron. 

On April 1 1 , Captain Maffitt, who had continued to run 
the blockade, bringing in arms, ammunition, clothing and 

John Newland Maffitt 237 

necessaries for the Confederacy, from January 7, when he 
took command of the Cecile, was ordered to the command of 
the Nassau (late Gordon), his duties being the same. He 
continued in command of the Gordon, or Nassau, until May 4, 
1862, when he made his last trip in her. 


Arrives in Nassau and is visited by Lieutenant Low, who presents a letter 
from Captain Bulloch, and gives information in regard to the Oreto — 
Lieutenant Maffitt resigns the Gordon and takes charge of the Oreto — 
Secretly prepares for sea and sends report to Secretary Mallory — Oreto 
seized and put in Court of Admiralty — The Gordon, in charge of Capt. 
G. Walker, returns — "Florie" and her step-brother Laurens return in 
her — Vessel is captured and "Florie" is taken to New York — Presents 
letter of her father and is treated with courtesy and sent home — Letter 
to Maffitt from Secretary Mallory — Letters from Commander Maffitt. 

Lieutenant Maffitt writes in his private journal : 

On May 4, at 4 p. m., I arrived in Nassau with the Gordon, 
and in twenty minutes after anchoring the steamer was crowded 
with visitors, — officers, citizens and others, — all anxious to hear 
the news. I landed Mr. and Mrs. De Leon, my daughter Florie, 
and Mrs. , who took rooms at the Royal Victoria Hotel. 

Mrs. De Leon is an Irish lady of rare beauty and accomplish- 
ments — no more admirable wife could second a commissioner 
than Mr. De Leon's lady. They take the first chance for Europe 
on a mission. 

At 11 p. m. Mr. Low, provisional master, C. S. N., came to 
my room in private and informed me that he had come over on 
the Confederate gunboat Oreto* and at the same time handed me 
a letter from Com. J. D. Bulloch, requesting that I would at once 
assume command and send Mr. Low back. Captain Bulloch 
stated that Commander North of the Navy, to whom Mr. Mallorv 
had assigned the command, had declined it, and he requested 
that I would immediately take charge and hasten to sea before 
the Government authorities became exercised as to her char- 
acter and ultimate occupation. Lieutenant Low informed me 
that the Oreto had been anchored for some time at Cockran's 
anchorage, nine miles east of Nassau, where her position was 
daily becoming perilous and precarious. Fully appreciating the 
necessity for prompt action, I immediately surrendered the Gor- 
don and informed Adderly & Co., to whom the Oreto was con- 
signed, that, as a Southern officer, it was my duty to become the 

*The Manassas; former or dock-yard name Oreto, permanently the 


John Newland Maffitt 239 

custodian of the lone Confederate waif upon the waters until the 
pleasure of the Navy Department should be expressed. 

By the Kate, Cambria, and Nassau, blockade-runners, I wrote 
to the Secretary of the Navy giving full information in regard 
to the Oreto and of the course which a sense of duty had caused 
me to adopt, and requested, should he confirm me in the com- 
mand, that he would send without delay experienced lieutenants 
and other necessary officers, besides funds, to enable me to get 
the Oreto out of Nassau with promptness and dispatch, as her 
warlike construction and equivocal position were calculated to 
arouse suspicion, and through the agency of Federal spies cause 
investigation and consequent arrest. 

The response to my communications brought three inexperi- 
enced young officers, strangers to the sea, with instructions for 
me (in the event of the non-arrival of Captain North) to assume 
command, equip, fit out, and immediately proceed to sea as a 
Confederate cruiser. From Lieutenant Stribling, who had just 
arrived from England en route for home, I learned that North 
had positively declined the command, consequently my status in 
regard to the Oreto became defined. The position immediately 
involved me in anxiety and trouble, as, through the representa- 
tions of the American consul, the commander of Her Britannic 
Majesty's ship Greyhound, under the rulings of the "Foreign 
Enlistment Act," had for the third time arrested the Oreto, and 
had now placed her in the Court of Admiralty. 

One Jones, ex-boatswain of the Oreto, having through the 
instigation and bribery of the American consul made declara- 
tion that the Oreto was a Confederate gunboat, etc., Captain 
Hickly of the Greyhound re-seized her and put the case in the 
Court of Admiralty. The Yankees rejoiced, and the excellent 
rascal Jones, a low, dirty, Liverpool dock-rat, went to Wash- 
ington, and as the hero of a great event was made an acting 
lieutenant in the Federal Navy. 

A few days after this, Captain Semmes, Lieutenant Kell, Dr. 
Gait, and Lieutenant Howell arrived in the "Maleta steamer," 
then the rumor that "Sumter Semmes" and officers had come 
to take the Oreto became prevalent; fortunately, my name was 
never connected with the vessel. I handed Captain Semmes his 
orders to return to England and take command of the Alabama, 
and about the 21st he set sail for England. Two days after his 
departure Lieutenants Chapman and Evans, late of the Sumter, 
arrived. I handed them orders to return, which they did in the 
steamer Bahama, but too late to join the Alabama. 

240 The Life and Services of 

The steamer Nassau fell into the hands of Capt. George Walker. 

Mrs. and my daughter Florie, having taken passage for 

home in her, were captured, through bad management, and taken 
to New York, where they were treated with great courtesy, and 
in a few days were passed through the lines for home.* 

From a newspaper of that date I note that : 

"Captain Maffitt of the Confederate States Navy has a 
daughter who is 'a chip of the old block.' " "Her father," it 
says, "is celebrated for his fighting qualities, and the daughter 
is worthy of her parentage. She was on board the steamer 
Nassau when captured by a Yankee ship. She sat on the open 
deck of the Nassau during our firing at her to make her bring 
to, until the captain warned her of her danger and advised her 
to go to her cabin. She would watch our guns, and as she 
saw the flame and smoke jut out would manifest just enough 
excitement to give the appearance of being well entertained. 
And she continued to enjoy the amusement through the 
window of her cabin when she went below. It must be borne 
in mind that the Nassau had tons of powder on board, to 
realize the awful danger of her situation. A single shell 
exploding in that cargo would have blown her into a thousand 
atoms." Her family were told by somet who were on board 
the Nassau at the time that Florie urged the captain not to 
surrender, and when he reminded her of the danger from the 
cargo of powder and his duty to her father, she exclaimed, 
with tears in her eyes, that her father would prefer her being 
blown up rather than that the steamer should be captured. 

From this episode we return to the narrative : 

Trusting that the evidence would not be sufficient to condemn 
the steamer, I, with the intelligent assistance of Mr. J. B. Lafitte 
of Charleston, South Carolina, then connected with the house of 

^Captain Maffitt had given his daughter a letter commending her to the 
courtesy of his brother officers in the U. S. Navy. This, in case of capture, 
she was to present, and it fell into the hands of Admiral Rhind and she 
was treated with every courtesy. 

tThe pilot and crew. 

John Nevvland Maffitt 241 

Frazier, Trenholm & Co., commenced (sub rosa, of course) to 
secure an armament and all the adjuncts that were requisite for 
the efficient equipment of a man-of-war. The complacent order 
to equip, fit out, and proceed on a cruise of aggression, as though 
a navy yard and enlisting rendezvous were at my disposal, clearly 
indicated that the Navy Department had failed to properly con- 
sider the very many obstacles and difficulties that surrounded 
me at Nassau. In a British port, restrained by the "Queen's 
Neutrality Proclamation" and the stringent "Foreign Enlistment 
Law," with its severe penal enactments (not to mention Federal 
detective espionage), the want of officers, men, and money — all 
these hampers to my proceedings were constantly springing up 
from ambush like the armed men of Roderic Dhu. 

Nevertheless, I hoped on, worked on, with a zealous determina- 
tion that at all hazards I would faithfully guard the interests of 
the Confederacy in this its first constructed bantling of the billows. 
In my extremity the chivalric Stribling, who had served on the 
Sumter with Semmes, relinquished his leave of absence and gal- 
lantly came to the rescue by volunteering his services. Joyfully 
were they accepted, admirable was the succor, for no such could 
be obtained in Nassau. June and July passed in a wearisome 
state of uncertainty and secret labor. A summer in Nassau is 
no paradise, particularly when one's mind is hourly exercised by 

Letter from Secretary Mallory: 

Confederate States of America, 
Navy Department, 

Richmond, July 14, 1862. 
Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, C. S. N., 
Nassau, N. P. 
Sir : Your letter of the 13th of June has been received. 
I feel very great anxiety about the Florida, and earnestly trust 
that you may be able to get her to sea safely and make a dash 
with her against the enemy. 

The difficulties, in your way are serious I know, and I can give 
you no other than general instructions to meet them. Exercise a 
sound discretion and do not hesitate to assume responsibility. 

You will cruise at discretion, the Department being unwilling 
to circumscribe your movements in this regard by specific instruc- 
tions. Should your judgment at any time hesitate in seeking 

242 The Life and Services of 

the solution of any doubt on that point, it may be aided by the 
reflection that you are to do the enemy's commerce the greatest 
injury in the shortest time. 

The strictest regard for the rights of neutrals cannot be too 
sedulously observed, nor should an opportunity be lost of culti- 
vating friendly relations with their naval and merchant service, 
and placing the true character of the contest in which we are 
engaged in its proper light. 

It would be well to purchase through third parties in advance, 
supplies of coal at points at which you may subsequently touch. 
I am respectfully, your ob't serv't, 

S. R. Mallory, 
Secretary of the Navy. 

Letter from Commander J. N. Maffitt to the Secretary of 
the Navy : 

Nassau, August i, 1862. 

Sir: The case of the Orcto will be decided to-morrow at 12.30 
p. m. It is believed that she will be liberated. In which event 
I shall depart for a certain place of rendezvous where a steamer 
will join me with armament and fittings. 

The difficulties are very great — some twelve men-of-war are 
on the lookout — seamen, firemen, and engineers are hard to obtain. 
I have no invoice of what has come for her, and dare not open 
the boxes in the bonded warehouse. The steamer has never been 
in my possession one moment — as she was seized the day the 
Bahama arrived. [The Bahama brought over the Orcto's cargo, 
in charge of Lieutenant Stribling, late of the Sumter.'] 

I merely governed (privately) the movements of the captain 
up to that period ; but would have gone to sea with her at once, 
leaving directions for the Bahama to meet me at the rendezvous, 
but unfortunately there was no coal in Nassau, nor did any 
arrive until the day after the arrival of the Bahama. 

I mention these circumstances with the hope that the Depart- 
ment will perfectly comprehend the trying position I have all 
along occupied, and that justice will be done me if all my efforts 
and those of our intelligent and zealous Government Agent Hey- 
leger, assisted by Mr. Lafitte, should fail. 

I will have to fit out at sea, with small assistance and ignor- 
ance as to what has been put on board. 

John Newland Maffitt 243 

Nothing has been neglected here to remedy the original mis- 
takes ; nothing will be left undone, on my part, when the vessel 
is released, to give entire satisfaction to the Department and the 
country at large. I am respectfully, your ob't serv't, 

J. N. Maffitt. 

Hon. S. R. Mallory, Sec'y Navy, 
Richmond, Va. 

Extracts from two letters written to his daughter at this 
period : 

My Darling : I have another half chance to write and do so 

to tell you the O is still in court ; but we hope to get her out 

soon and go on our way rejoicing. Laurens* is with me, after 
fourteen days' imprisonment in the Tombs — he is very angry 
about the capture. 

I have written and thanked every one who was kind to you. 
Why did you not tell me how much money you had, where you 
got it, how and where you lived, who called, etc. I wish to know 
every particular. * * * 

I will write by every opportunity until I leave. * * * Your 
other box has come to light, and if you will address T. D. Wagner, 
Charleston, S. C, he will send it on. You will have to guard well 
your means. * * * 

All send much love. You are quite the admiration of all — and 
I feel well assured, my dear, that you will ever deserve it. * * * 

Your Devoted Father. 

The next letter is dated : 

N , August i, 

My Darling Florie: I am in receipt of all of your letters 
save one, and congratulate you, my dear, in being home again 
once more. * * * 

We have the yellow fever here and several have died in this 
house. Laurens was, at first, much alarmed, but has recovered 
appetite and spirits. The midshipmen send you many cordial 
regards, also Mr. and Mrs. Anderson, Mr. and Mrs. Brander, 
Mr. and Mrs. Mends, Mr. and Mrs. Doyle — the Lafittes, Moses, 
of course. 

*His step-son. 

244 The Life and Services of 

The fate of the O will be known at 10 a. m. to-morrow. 

If for her — I sail at once; if against us — then we all return to 
the South for other duty. 

I shall be painfully distressed if this grand chance is lost to 
us, but the entire affair was badly managed on the other side of 
the water. We have worked hard to patch up their bad arrange- 
ments — if we fail 'tis no fault of mine. 

I am well, very — and in no way alarmed in regard to the fever. 
Most of the gentlemen are sadly frightened. Poor Mr. Brown 
died of it. 

I have no other news to give you. Several of my letters have 
been burned by the capture of vessels. By the Seabrook I wrote 
two, and one to Cousin E. She was caught — the others I trust 
got in safe. 

God bless you, my dear daughter. Love to all friends. 

Your Devoted Father. 

The regiments here are ordered to Africa. Write as often as 
you can and have no fears for me. 


Yellow fever in Nassau — Oreto is free and steams out of the harbor, 
Commander Maffitt, and other officers, on board — Lieutenant Stribling 
with tender approaches and is taken in tow — Oreto anchors at Green 
Key — Hoisting guns, etc., on board — Herculean task in which all join — 
Important essentials of battery wanting — English colors hauled down 
and Confederate banner raised amid cheers — Florida christened — 
Reported illness of men — Fears of yellow fever epidemic confirmed — 
Starts for Cardenas, Cuba — Sends Lieutenant Stribling to Havana for 
medical aid and nurses — Is taken ill — Given up by physicians — Death 
of step-son, J. Laurens Read — Sails for Havana — Decides to enter 
Mobile harbor. 

Returning to the journal : 

About the 20th of July the yellow fever in its worst form 
became an epidemic. The first victim was my young friend 
Lieutenant Brown of the 4th W. I. Regiment — as high-toned 
a little gentleman as ever lived. Other friends fell victims^ to 
this dread disease and much of my time was employed in nursing 
the afflicted. 

At last the August term of the Vice-Admiralty Court arrived. 
August 7 the court-room was crowded. The Oreto underwent 
her trial. It was clearly proven that she left England unarmed 
and unequipped, and had continued so during her stay at Nassau. 
At twelve o'clock Judge Lee gave his decision and she was released 
from bondage. 

On the following day the verdict was recorded, papers made 
out for any Confederate port, and at 11 a. m. she steamed out 
of the harbor to the outer anchorage ; and at 4 p. m. I went on 
board with Lieutenant Stribling, Master (Acting Lieutenant) 
Bradford, Acting Master Floyd, Midshipman Bryant, Engineers 
Spidell, Scott, Quinn, and J. Sully, Acting Marine Officer 
Wyman, Acting Paymaster J. Laurens Read, Clerk L. Vogel, 
and a few men. 

Lieutenant Stribling returned to take charge of the tender with 
arms, stores, etc., and ship such men as could be obtained. On 
the following day the Cayler, Federal gunboat, came and ran all 
around us, when the Petrel, Captain Watson, immediately went 

246 The Life and Services of 

out and ordered her in the harbor, or to go without the marine 
limits.. That night the Petrel gave me a hawser and we hung on 
by it, as we had not men enough to weigh our anchor. At 12 
or a little after we dropped quietly down under the shadow of 
the land until off* the west end of the island, when we steamed 
to the southward. At 1 o'clock fell in with the Prince Alfred, 
schooner, Lieutenant Stribling, and took her in tow. At 3 p. m. 
on the following day anchored one and three-quarter miles W. 
S. W. of Green Key, a desolate, uninhabited islet some ninety 
miles to the southward of New Providence. 

Then commenced a task more difficult and painfully laborious 
than anything my wide experience had ever encountered. Our 
crew consisted of twenty-two all told, in place of the proper com- 
plement of one hundred and thirty. There was a deficit among 
the officers of two lieutenants, sailing-master, surgeon, paymaster, 
one engineer, five midshipmen, boatswain and gunner. 

With this inadequate force two rifle 7-inch and six 6-inch guns, 
with carriages, powder, shot, shell, general equipment and stores, 
were to be hoisted on board. However, no one murmured ; officers 
and men stripped to the buff and went to work, while the broiling 
tropical sun of August blistered and burned their exposed persons. 
On the second day one of the men sickened, and in eight hours 
died. As he had while in Nassau dissipated to excess, this sud- 
den winding up of his earthly career was attributed to that cause, 
though the yellow appearance of the corpse excited in my mind 
grave misgivings. We buried him on the rocky islet, and resumed 
our herculean task, which continued for seven days. On the 
eighth we rested from sheer prostration. 

At length our task was finished, the guns mounted and in posi- 
tion, and the anchor weighed, and with tender in tow we steamed 
away from the lone rock sentinel. After the establishment of 
general order the guns were run in for loading. An exclamation 
of despair from Stribling attracted my attention. "What is the 
difficulty?" I inquired. 

"Good Heavens, Captain, we are ruined! In the haste and 
secrecy of loading the tender, rammers, sponges, sights, locks, 
beds, and quoins have all been left in Nassau. The battery, 
sir, is impotent without these essentials, and we have no means 
of temporary substitution." 

The misfortune was indeed deplorable, though slightly relieved 
by the completeness of our pivot guns. 

John Newland Maffitt 247 

When we passed through the Queen's Channel the tender was 
cast off, the English colors hauled down, and with loyal cheers 
for the Florida we flung the Confederate banner to the breeze. 

Alas! poor Florida. Beautiful in model, warlike in guns, the 
absence of important essentials despoiled the reality, and left her 
afloat the mere typical representation of what a gallant cruiser 
should be. 

This, our first day of assumed nationality, proved wondrously 
beautiful. The bright tropical sun shone, but the softest of trade- 
winds cooled the atmosphere and invigorated all hands for judi- 
cious organization, and ingenious application of limited means 
into some tangible form of naval efficiency. These duties were 
not accomplished until night. Setting the watch, and directing 
the course to be steered, I obeyed the dictates of nature and retired 
to rest. 

From uneasy dreams I was aroused at daylight to visit two of 
the men who were reported as ill. Premonitions of approaching 
yellow fever epidemic cast its shadow over my mind. Having 
no physician on board that duty devolved upon me, and after 
administering to the sick, I repaired to the quarter-deck. Nerv- 
ously I paced it, vainly striving to conquer despondency as I 
contemplated the overwhelming responsibilities that were charged 
upon my official position. The fact of being afloat I knew would 
excite extraordinary expectations, and to fail, under any circum- 
stances, involved professional extinction. These gloomy reveries 
were interrupted by delirious cries from the sick men. Hasten- 
ing to their bedsides, I found them raving mad with fever. A 
survey of their condition confirmed my worst apprehensions, for 
it conveyed the dreadful intelligence that the pestilential tyrant 
of the tropics had invaded the Florida. Thus were we assailed 
by an element of impotence more terrible to encounter than all 
that was endured in our past physical struggle. 

Intrusting to Stribling alone the melancholy information, we 
determined, if possible, to conceal the appearance of the epidemic, 
with the delusive hope that the cases might prove sporadic. In 
the absence of a regular physician, the medical duties of the 
steamer as a necessity devolved upon me, and throughout the 
anxious day the requisitions on my ability were constant. The 
trade-wind freshened, and the hope was indulged that the pure 
ocean air would disinfect the Florida and relieve her from the 
malaria of the fell disease. Alas ! "there was no balm in Gilead." 

248 The Life and Services of 

By sundown more than half the crew, with two officers, were 
added to the sick list. The character of the affliction could no 
longer be concealed. 

An epidemic on shore invariably produces a general panic. The 
well can obtain safety in flight, or at least free themselves from its 
constant terrible presence ; but at sea, imprisoned, without the pos- 
sibility of escape, within the narrow confines of the vessel, there is 
no relief from the howls of the delirious, the death-heralding 
black vomit, or the pinched and yellow countenances of those who 
have ceased to suffer, and are reluctantly manipulated by their 
surviving shipmates as the hammock-shroud and ponderous shot 
are arranged for the final plunge into that ocean of rest, the sea- 
man's uncoffined grave. 

Reluctantly the idea of cruising was abandoned, a harbor of 
refuge had become a necessity. Cuba was in sight, and Cardenas, 
a familiar port, not far distant. Shaping the course in conformity 
with the obligations involved in my responsibility, we eluded the 
numerous cruisers, and at midnight, August 19, anchored at Car- 
denas, our force having been reduced by the epidemic to one fire- 
man and two seamen. 

On the 20th dispatched Lieutenant Stribling and Mr. Vesterling 
to Havana to obtain medical aid and nurses. By this time the 
quarter-deck had been converted into a hospital, where at all 
hours of the day and night my presence was required, for there 
was none to aid, none to relieve me from the exhausting demand 
upon my medical attention to the sick and dying. A communica- 
tion was addressed to the Governor of Cardenas soliciting the aid 
of a physician. The response was couched in the most courteous 
of hyperbolical Spanish, but ingeniously equivocal. I was politely 
reminded of "Queen's Neutrality Proclamation," particularized 
by citing the injunctions against increasing military equipment, 
recruiting, or remaining in port longer than twenty-four hours. 

Disgusted with this abnegation of the ordinary manifestations 
of humanity, I resolved to give no further heed to national laws 
or official mandates, but let fate do her worst, and battle with our 
misfortunes courageously to the bitter end. 

The sun rose and set upon the beautiful Florida. At her peak 
the Confederate flag waved in solemn dignity, and no external 
spectator who gazed upon the outside symmetrical appearance 
could for a moment fancy that burning fevers and fatal vomitos 
were devouring the life-throbs of her scanty crew. There is a 
limit beyond which human ability is incapable of passing. The 

John Newland Maffitt 249 

overwhelming duties and responsibilities that had been forced 
upon me reduced me physically to that terminus of endurance. 

At 4 o'clock, August 22, while giving- medicine to the sick 1 was 
seized with a heavy chill pain in my back and limbs, and dimness 
of vision The painful conviction was forced upon me that I was 
boarded with the fever. I sent for Mr. Floyd and Mr. Wyman 
and gave full directions in regard to the duties of the vessel, 
ordered a physician sent for and the sick sent to the hospital. 
Knowing that fever alwavs affected my brain, I did all that 1 
thouo-ht necessary with promptness, even directing the medicine 
and care of the sick for the night. I took a warm mustard bath 
and used other remedies. The demon of Hades tarried not long 
in his approach, but came with a throbbing pulsation of the brain, 
accompanied with a dizzy blindness and shooting pains that pro- 
duced excruciating agony, as if my bones had been converted into 
red-hot tubes of iron and the marrow in them boiling with the 
fervent heat. My tongue, mouth and throat were blistered, as if 
molten lead had been poured down them. Unquenchable thirst 
that nothing could alleviate was accompanied by the most violent 
retching. There was no moisture in my eyes; the fountains 
seemed seared and parched, as if red-hot irons had branded the 
well-spring of tears. Every pore in my body seemed to be her- 
metically sealed with a burning fever from the furnace of my 
heart. This was succeeded by icy chills. At first the delirium 
of suffering ebbed and flowed, leaving brief periods of conscious- 
ness which, with singular determination, were employed in direct- 
ing the management of my case. At length a dreary blank envel- 
oped my mind ; the vital spark nickered in its unstable tabernacle 
as the battle of life was fought. Thus a week elapsed, when, on 
August 29, reason asserted a feeble sway. I awoke to a sense of 
reality, and discovered in the gloom of the cabin three somber- 
looking individuals, who to my dreaming fancy appeared like 
weird phantoms of the nether world. In a few moments I became 
conscious of their corporeal substance, and discovered that they 
were medical savants of Cardenas, whom kind friends had sum- 
moned to my couch. Their consultation had ended, and the voice 
of the senior, in sepulchral cadence, enunciated, with the aid of 
his timepiece^ "It is now twenty minutes after 9 o'clock. I am 
convinced, from careful investigation, that the captain cannot sur- 
vive beyond meridian." 

The profound lugubriousness of their assent excited an irresist- 
ible impulse that caused me to exclaim, "You're a liar, sir ; I have 
too much to do, and cannot afford to die." 

250 The Life and Services of 

The reverend medicos smiled at my excitement and soon 
departed ; but Dr. Gilliard of the Spanish gunboat Guadalquivir, 
was somewhat hopeful, and I told him his prognostications were 
correct. He and the lieutenant commanding of the Guadalquivir 
were very polite and attentive, and I hope some day to have it in 
my power to demonstrate my appreciation of their courtesy. 

This determination to live (for in sickness there is vitality in 
individual will) acted like a charm upon my system. By the inter- 
position of Divine Providence the message of death was arrested. 

When my mind regained its normal condition I expressed a 
desire to see the young gentlemen who had shared with me in the 
trials and dangers through which we had passed. The invitation 
was promptly accepted, and I was soon surrounded by these noble 
young men. Several had paid toll at the half-way house, but had 
speedily retraced their steps on the road to health. 

There was one beloved form missing which in the early days 
of my illness was never absent from my couch. "Where," I 
nervously inquired, "is my beloved son Laurens?" Every coun- 
tenance saddened, and for a time only sobs responded to my inter- 
rogatory. Finally I learned that he had died the day before of 
the scourge that had so fearfully afflicted us, and had that morn- 
ing been buried while I was unconscious and supposed to be pass- 
ing into eternity. Appreciating the agony that oppressed me, the 
gentlemen soon departed and left me to regain composure. 

John Laurens Read was a noble youth, a native of Charleston, 
South Carolina, and sixteen years of age. Well born (Henry 
Laurens of Revolutionary fame being his great-grandsire), he 
was the possessor of all those noble characteristics of the purest 
blood of the best and most patriotic days of the country, and was 
much beloved by his brother-officers. This blow came so heavily 
upon me as nearly to produce a relapse. 

August 30. — Poor Mr. Seeley (John), our third assistant engi- 
neer, and three men departed this life at about the same hour. 
Mr. Floyd is down with the fever and also Midshipman Sinclair. 
Mr. Wyman is quite sick with the epidemic, but as he was taken 
while on shore, Mr. John Cacho, a native of Port Mahon, kindly 
took him to his house, where he was attended with so much care 
that his case has proved a mild one. 

Stribling returned with a Georgia physician and fourteen non- 
enlisted laborers, the neutrality laws utterly precluding the possi- 
bility of procuring seamen. Dr. Barrett of Georgia — a warm- 
hearted Irishman — had volunteered for the vessel, giving up an 

John Newland Maffitt 251 

excellent situation in the government hospital in Havana, in order 
to demonstrate his devotion to the South in this time of need. 

Marshal Surano, the Governor-General of Cuba, telegraphed 
a request for me to proceed to Havana, as there were no forts 
in Cardenas and a rumor had reached him of an intent on the part 
of the Yankees to cut me out. The port was already completely 
blockaded in anticipation of my departure. 

August 31. — Committed our dead to their mother earth and 
settled all bills prior to departing for Havana. Twas whispered 
about that we were leaving and the American consul dispatched 
a swift craft to inform the Federal squadron. At 8 p. m. the 
Spanish mail boat for Havana left, and when outside was chased 
by the Federals, who fired shot and shell at her until she entered 
the harbor of Matanzas. They mistook her for the Florida, con- 
sequently at 9.30 we sailed, and ran the coast along unmolested. 

September 1, at 11.30 a. m., we entered the harbor of Havana 
and were soon thronged with visitors whose curiosity outweighed 
all dread of Yellow Jack. We were kept under a strict surveillance, 
and all our ingenuity could not procure a piece of timber long 
and large enough to be molded into rammers and sponges. 

It had become evident that the Florida would have to enter a 
Confederate port to be officered and properly equipped. This 
conviction determined me to sail for Mobile, which I learned 
had a smaller blockading force on duty than any other Southern 
port. So at 9 p. m. we sailed, avoiding the enemy's fleet gathered 
off the Moro, by running some distance close in shore. 


Sails direct for Mobile — U. S. S. Oneida attempts to cut Florida off, but 
is prevented — Pours broadside into Florida and is followed by other 
ships of the squadron — Terrible baptism of fire continues for more 
than two hours — Final escape — Florida anchors under guns of Fort 
Morgan and is visited by officers of the fort — Hospital ship sent by 
Admiral Buchanan — Letter from Admiral Buchanan, who later visits 
the Florida and compliments the officers and crew — Stribling ill with 
fever — Dies, lamented — Repairs begin — Officers reporting — Letter from 
Navy Department — Long tarry in port unavoidable — Captain detached, 
then restored by action of President — Prepares to run through Federal 
squadron — Succeeds — Is chased, but escapes. 

From the journal : 

On the ist of September, 1862, we steamed out of Havana 
and made a direct course for Mobile Bay. The voyage proved 
propitious, and at 3 p. m. on the 4th we sighted Fort Morgan, 
and two steamers, evidently blockaders, hastening to contest our 
entrance. Though still quite feeble, with assistance I was enabled 
to repair on deck and reconnoiter the situation. There was not 
a cloud in the sky, or a zephyr breath on the sea, to disturb 
the serenity of the surroundings ; but when the eye sighted the 
approach of the vengeful foe this poetry of view faded before 
the harsh and stern reality. Lieutenant Stribling suggested that 
under the circumstances of our crippled condition, and inability 
to offer resistance, it would be advisable to stand off again and 
defer the attempt to enter the harbor until darkness should mantle 
our movements. This proposition I rejected, as the draught of 
the Florida did not permit of dalliance with the shoals, nor was 
there any surety of finding the channel without the aid of the 
light-house, which had been dismantled. 

"But, sir," said Lieutenant Stribling, "in this attempt we cannot 
avoid passing close to the blockade-squadron, the result of which 
will be our certain destruction." 

"The hazard is certainly very great, but it cannot be avoided. 
We will hoist the English colors as a 'ruse de guerre,' and boldly 
stand for the commanding officer's ship ; the remembrance of the 
delicate Trent affair may perhaps cause some deliberation and 

John Newland Maffitt 253 

care before the batteries are let loose upon us ; four minutes of 
hesitation on their part may save us." 

Moreover, having decided regardless of hazards to run the 
blockade, there was no time for hesitation, but dash ahead, trust- 
ing to fortune and a clean pair of heels. 

The English colors were set, and under a full head of steam 
we boldly stood for the flag-ship. 

The Oneida, Captain Preble, of ten guns, made an effort to 
cut us off, but I sheered toward him, and feeling that he would 
be run down he backed — giving me a momentary advantage. When 
about some eighty yards distant from her she fired a warning 
gun, and ordered us to heave to, evidently deceived by our gen- 
eral appearance and bold approach into the belief that we were 
English. We paid no attention to the signal or command, but 
continued to press vigorously on. A second shot passed over our 
bow, when immediately their whole broadside was poured into 
us, the effect of which was to carry away some of our hammock 
nettings and much of our standing and running rigging. Had 
their guns been depressed, the career of the Florida would have 
ended then and there. The example of the flag-ship, the Oneida, 
was instantly followed by the other two ships of the squadron, 
and their fierce fusillade was hurled with the resolute determina- 
tion of destroying the Confederate. In truth, so terrible became 
the bombardment, every hope of escape fled from my mind. One 
gunboat opened on my port bow, the other on our port quarter, 
and the cannonading became rapid and precise. Having passed 
the Oneida I gave a starboard helm to bring the gunboats in 
line and escape by this range the fire of one of them, for this 
grouping around me bid fair to send the little Florida to the 
bottom. One n-inch shell from the Oneida passed through the 
coal-bunkers on the port side, struck the port forward boiler, and 
entering among the men on the berth deck wounded nine men 
and took off the head of James Duncan. Duncan was captain 
of the main top and one of our best men. If it had exploded, 
which it failed to do, I no doubt would have lost every man on 
the vessel except the two men at the helm, as I had ordered all 
the crew below, they being exposed to no purpose on deck. The 
officers of course remained at their stations, and though subjected 
to constant storms of destructive missiles, they miraculously 
escaped. Immediately after this a shot from the Winona entered 
the cabin and passed through the pantry, and an n-inch shell 

254 The Life and Services of 

from the Oneida exploded close to the port gangway and seriously 
injured the vessel. The fire from this vessel increased in warmth 
and destruction. 

Finding that we did not distance the Federals rapidly I sent 
the men aloft to loose topsails and topgallantsails, and our sailors 
responded to the order with alacrity. As soon as they were seen 
on the yards all the gunboats commenced firing twenty- four pound 
shrapnel ; the standing rigging was shot away and we only suc- 
ceeded so far as letting fall the topsails. Several men were 
wounded in the rigging; and one had the whole bottom of his 
foot taken off by a shrapnel shot, and afterward died from tetanus, 
and the sheets and ties were shot away, so that I was not able 
to set the sails properly. 

At this moment I hauled down the English flag under which 
we were sailing, and gave the order to one of the helmsmen to 
hoist the Confederate flag. At the time he was endeavoring to 
haul up the foot brail of the spanker, and lost his forefinger with 
a shrapnel shot, so that my order in regard to the flag could not 
then be complied with. The halyards were shot away, but soon 
re-rove and the Dixie flag floated in their faces. During all this 
time shell and shrapnel were bursting over and around us, the 
shrapnel striking the hull and the spars at almost every discharge. 

We made no effort at resistance, for though armed we were 
not at all equipped, having neither rammers, sponges, sights, 
quoins, nor elevating screws. Properly manned and equipped, the 
excitement of battle would have relieved the terrible strain upon 
our fortitude, which nevertheless sustained us through the wither- 
ing assaults of a foe who were determined upon capture or 

The loud explosions, roar of shot and shell, crashing spars and 
rigging, mingled with the moans of our sick and wounded, instead 
of intimidating, only increased our determination to enter the des- 
tined harbor. Simultaneously two heavy shells entered our hull 
with a thud that caused a vibration from stem to stern. The 
1 1 -inch shell from the Oneida which came in and passed along the 
berth deck entered three inches above the water-line, and if there 
had been any sea on our bilge-pumps could not have saved the 
vessel from sinking. Everything depended upon our engineers, 
and in that department the duty was performed with efficiency 
and zeal. Sharkey, captain of the forecastle, and Billips, quarter- 
master, were at the wheel during the cannonading and did well ; in 
truth, every one acted well his part. 

John Newland Maffitt 255 

Thus far we had borne the fierce assaults with the calmness 
that oft befriends the victims of desperation, and as nothing vital 
had been injured our gradual withdrawal from the close proximity 
of the guns of the enemy excited pleasurable hope. Finally we 
cleared the grouping circle and the prospects of escape began to 
brighten. This the enemy observed, as more fiercely their efforts 
increased, more furiously roared their artillery, and denser became 
the black clouds from their smokestacks, as they fed their fires 
with rosin and other combustible material to increase their head 
of steam. 

Vain were these excessive exertions ; fate had carved out for 
the Florida a more extended career, and this baptism of fire chris- 
tened the gallant craft as a Confederate torch-bearer on the ocean 
of public events. The shot and shell gradually fall short, and a 
gentle northeast wind lifts the cloudy curtain and exhibits the 
indignant Federals hauling off from the bar, while in the channel- 
way, battered and torn, war-worn and weary, with her own banner 
floating in the breeze, the Florida in safety is welcomed to her 
anchorage by hearty cheers from the defenders of Fort Morgan. 

The dangers through which we had passed were unavoidable, 
our success a source of professional congratulation, and the reac- 
tion from overstrained anxiety to quiescent repose pleasurable 
beyond expression. 

We were soon visited by the officers of the fort. Colonel Powell 
says the scene was brilliant, and he considers it one of the most 
dashing feats of the war. We were visited bv McBlair of the 
Morgan, and Hunter of the Gains, their crews cheering as they 
approached. We anchored off Melrose. 

On the 5th we buried our dead, and I went up to Mobile with 
McBlair to recruit. 

September 6. — The admiral sent a small steamer down as a 
hospital ship. Finding that there was much alarm in reference to 
my being in the city I thought it proper to return, which I did on 
Monday morning in the Morgan. The trip, change of diet, and 
surroundings had improved me much. Dr. Ketchum, who was 
called in, said all that I now required was building up. 

On Sunday night I had quite an interview with General Beaure- 
gard, who had just returned from Blaiden Springs. He was 
evidently sore with the entire management of the Army. Of 
Bragg he spoke in high terms, but told me that General B. did 
not approve of the Kentucky expedition, for he was assured per- 
sonally that the people were cowed, and no longer the men of the 
days of the "dark and bloody ground." We shall see. 

256 The Life and Services of 

Quite a number of gentlemen called upon me, and the doctor 
had to interdict visitors, as I was too debilitated to entertain com- 

The following letter received by Captain Maffitt at this time 
speaks for itself : 

Mobile, Ala., September 7, 1862. 
Lieutenant Commander Maffitt, C. S. N. 

Sir: Your communication of the 5th inst. I have received. The 
gallantry and energy displayed by yourself, officers, and crew of 
the Florida in forcing an entrance into this port on the 4th inst. 
through the enemy's blockading squadron reflects great credit 
upon you all, and it will afford me much pleasure to lay your 
communication before the Hon. Secretary of the Navy, who I feel 
convinced will bring such commendable conduct to the notice of 
the President. You will please inform the officers and crew that 
as Admiral commanding this station I fully appreciate their gal- 
lantry, and should the Florida when equipped for service appear 
before the enemy, I feel assured that the cool, determined bravery 
of all as displayed on that occasion will enable them to add one or 
more laurels to our Navy. 

Respectfully and truly, 

Frank Buchanan, 

Admiral, etc. 

Monday morning, September 8, at 1 a. m. I arrived in the Mor- 
gan. The Admiral went on board the steamer and made a few 
complimentary remarks to the crew and then left. 

As the yellow fever still clung to the steamer, assailing both 
officers and men, very judiciously we were placed in quarantine. 

On going on board the Florida I was distressed to find poor 
Stribling down with a serious attack of the fever which had 
already caused us so much misery. I had him conveyed to the 
steamer Areal that Dr. Barrett could attend him night and day. 
His mind wandered and there seemed no elasticity in his constitu- 
tion. I think his chances very doubtful. 

September 9. — Stribling is very ill — will not permit any one to 
administer his medicine but me, and I am hardly able to stand. 
Midshipman Sinclair rather worse — case assuming a doubtful 

September 10. — I am quite exhausted with my efforts to aid 
poor Stribling. He calls for me all the time. Young Sinclair 
has a favorable turn. Nothing but sickness. 

John Newland Maffitt 257 

September 12. — All that medical skill and devoted friendship 
could accomplish was rendered with a zeal that never wavered. 
Vain were human efforts. The fatal vomito announced the end 
of hope. Nothing- remained to be done, apart from tender nurs- 
ing and affectionate care. Lightly the rough seamen trod the 
quarter-deck, and the harsh coils of rope were flemished in their 
places as noiselessly as falls the gentle snow-flakes upon the bosom 
of our mother earth. All orders were issued in subdued whis- 
pers, that nothing might disturb the last moments of the dying 
officer. In unconsciousness his spirit seemed to wander, though 
he still held my hand that for twenty hours had scarce parted from 
his feeble clasp. 

"Sweet mother," he murmured, "take me to your heart of 

" 'Lend, lend your wings ; I mount, I fly ! 
O grave, where is thy victory? 
O death, where is thy sting?'" 

These, his last words, were whispered with expiring breath, and 
the spirit of the chivalric Christian Stribling passed to that better 
land, "where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are 
at rest." 

We buried him on the peaceful heights of Montrose, but not his 
memory; that was embalmed in our hearts, and every throbbing 
reminiscence of Confederate existence re-writes there the epitaph 
that had no carving on his grave. 

For some length of time the poor Florida seemed haunted by 
ghosts, as her ghastly crew slowly recovered from the baneful 
influences of the tropical epidemic. 

At last pratique is granted, the yellow flag disappears, and the 
din of workmen engaged in repairs arouses the lethargic into 
action. The repairs were multifarious, and vital to the efficiency 
of the vessel. The facilities were subordinate to the distance of 
twenty-eight miles from Mobile and its mechanical appliances. 
An extensive bay, subject to chopping seas in ordinary winds, 
operated against the efficiency of the ship carpenters who were 
employed to repair damages to the hull. In addition, the wire 
standing rigging was to be spliced — a most tedious and slow opera- 
tion, — caulking, under every disadvantage of rainy weather, 
besides hundreds of minor matters that nevertheless were impor- 
tant. Three months were consumed from the date of pratique 
to the reporting of the vessel "ready for sea." 

258 The Life and Services of 

On the twentieth [September] Passed Assistant Surgeon F. 
Garretson, C. S. N., reported for duty (his original name was 
Van Bibber). The doctor is from Virginia and enjoys a high 
reputation, not only in but out of his profession. 

September 26. — Midshipman Sinclair has been under my espe- 
cial care in the cabin and has benefited so much, that he was 
enabled to proceed to Richmond on leave. 

September 29. — Lieutenant Comstock reported for duty — a 
young officer of exceeding delicacy of constitution, in fact unfitted 
for the performance of the requirements of this vessel. This 
day I got clear of my pest Mr. Vesterling. We steamed over 
abreast of Dog River Bar. I received a very complimentary 
communication from the Navy Department — but no hint of pro- 

October 4. — Acting Master Bradford detached, and on the 6th 
Passed Midshipman Walker reported. He is exceedingly unpopu- 
lar — am sorry to receive him. On the 9th Lieutenant De Forrest 
reported as Executive. 

October 12. — At last after great exertions I have some 
mechanics at work. They all dread the vessel and desired to 
await a fever-killing frost ere coming on board — slow, slow, 

October 13. — Lieutenant Hoole of Alabama, a young gentle- 
man who was badly wounded in the head at Roanoke Island, 
reported. Dr. Barrett returned from leave, and concluded to 
remain with his family — good old man. 

October 18. — Second Assistant Engineer Jackson reported — 
and a more unfortunate appointment could not have been made. 
He is a perfect bag of wind, devoid of modesty and ability. 

[Well might Captain Maffitt have later exclaimed, Oh, my 
prophetic soul ! in regard to Jackson, as we shall see hereafter.] 

The following letter was received from the Secretary of 
the Navy: 

Confederate States of America, 
Navy Department, 
Richmond, October 8, 1862. 
Lieut. Comdg. John N. Maffitt, C. S. N., 
Com'g Steamer Florida, 
Mobile, Ala. 
Sir : Your official report of your arrival at Mobile with the 
Florida was duly received, and through Admiral Buchanan I 

John Newland Maffitt 259 

have tendered the thanks of the Department to yourself, your 
officers, and crew for the good service, so well and acceptably 
performed. . 

The escape of your defenseless vessel from an overwhelming 
force with liberty to choose its ground and mode of attack was 
alone due to the handsome manner in which she was handled, 
and I do not remember that the union of thorough professional 
skill, coolness, and daring have ever been better exhibited in a 
naval dash of a single ship. 

I trust that your health will soon enable you to resume the 
command. The future movements of your vessel is a subject 
upon which you will please give me your views, etc. 
I am respectfully, your ob't ser't, 
(Signed) S. R. Mallory, 

v & Sec'ty of Navy. 

Again from the journal : 

Third Assistant Engineer E. H. Brown reported. On the 20th 
Lieutenant Forrest received his detachment, and on the 25th Lieut. 
E. D. Simms reported, and a most excellent officer he is. The 
equipments and repairs now commenced with system and regu- 

October 30. — Lieut. S. W. Averett, an officer of high standing, 
for his period of service, reported— his frank, manly manner 
pleases me much. Crew coming on board in driblets— many rated 
as seamen who in the old service would merely pass as very ordi- 
nary O. S. 

November 1. — Passed Midshipman Walker detached to make 
room for Midshipman J. Dyke of Florida. 

November 4. — Lieut. C. W. Read joined — this last lieutenant I 
personally applied for. He had acquired a reputation for gunnery, 
coolness and determination at the battle of New Orleans. W hen 
his commander, T. B. Huger, was fatally wounded he continued 
gallantly to fight the McRae until she was riddled and unfit for 
service. I am sorry to say the Government has not requited him. 
He seems slow — I doubt not but he is sure. As a military officer 
of the deck he is not equal to many — time will remedy this. Passed 
Assistant Surgeon S. Dana Grafton reported. He is a pleasant 
gentleman and enjoys the reputation of being an excellent surgeon. 
S November 15. — Lieutenant Simms was telegraphed by the 
Department that in consequence of the alarming illness of his wife 
he was at liberty to leave. He referred to the Admiral, Frank 

260 The Life and Services of 

Buchanan, who at once decided that he must return home, and 
much to his and my own regret, I lost the service of this experi- 
enced and excellent officer. I cannot have more changes, so will 
ask for Lieut. S. G. Stone, and try how Mr. Averett will get along 
as executive — he only lacks experience. 

Mr. Stone has joined — he is intelligent and will make an admira- 
ble officer. 

December i. — I received Admiral Buchanan, General Slaughter, 
Lieutenant Rainey, Captain McBlair, T. G. Hunter, Colonel For- 
syth, Mrs. Le Vert and daughter, Mrs. Hopkins, Gracie Scott, Mrs. 
Forsyth, Mrs. Graves, Virginia Hallett, and Mrs. John W. Mur- 
rell and others. We entertained them several hours. Exercised 
at target, and at 3.40 they returned to the city in the Crescent 

The letter given below was written by Captain Maffitt to 
his daughter Florie, then living near Fayetteville, North 
Carolina, under the protection of Mrs. Hybart at her home, 
"Ellerslie" : 

C. S. Steamer "Florida," 
Mobile Bay, September 8, 1862. 

My Dear Daughter : At last I am able to write a few hurried 
lines home — home on earth, when but recently all thought my home 
must be the cold earth, or a sailor's down, down in the unknown 
sepulchral grave of old ocean. Never has mortal man undergone 
such fearful trials — such extreme exercise of mental and physical 
application to necessity of the saddest — the most trying — as your 
exhausted, nearly dead father. 

I sailed from Nassau with only eighteen men, no purser, no sur- 
geon, and only three young boy inexperienced midshipmen. On 
the banks stripped to the buff we worked all day under a tropical 
sun — all night under its dews — to get on board guns, munitions of 
war, etc. Every soul of our spare force had to perform men's 

The yellow fever appeared. I was captain, pilot, surgeon, 
attendant, and everything, sleeping a few moments in the hour 
amid my patients — for in these days we had but four men on duty. 
This misery and misfortune forced me into Cardenas, Cuba. Firm 
and powerful as was my constitution it could not brave everything, 
more than mortal could stand. I too fell before this pestilential 
tyrant of the tropics, and for nine days was considered beyond all 

" Flop ie 


John Newland Maffitt 261 

hope. When recovering my mental faculties, our poor Laurens 
was passing to that last home to which the doctors had but recently- 
doomed me. Poor boy, the black vomit came and he passed away 
unconscious and without pain. Nothing that love and medical 
ability could do to save the dear boy was neglected. Oh! my 
agony cannot be conceived — nearly dead, but with recovered mind 
only in time to see our noble boy pass from life in all his youth and 

When able to think I determined to enter Mobile and fit out prop- 
erly as a national Confederate vessel. 

What I contended with — how we were battered and torn to 
pieces from two in the afternoon until half-past four — the papers 
will explain. 

They brought me on deck to take the ship in — though unfit for 
any place but a sick bed. Thank God I did my duty so well a<j +? 
call forth extreme adulation. The papers are full of it — the crowd 
who visit me annoy with compliments. 

I am still very weak and look like a poor ghost. To write this 
requires pillows and mental determination absolutely at war with 
my physical ability, but, my darling, I am determined to write 

All the officers say I must be promptly promoted — well, the Rich- 
mond people flatter but do not always act with justice. 

When stronger and able will write fully. My cabin i? like « 
flower garden — and as for jellies, cakes and delicacies, the young 
ladies seem to exert great industry and gentle courtesy. 

We lost two men killed, eleven wounded and some died from 
yellow fever under the awful bombardment — for we passed 
through the squadron early in the afternoon, receiving their broad- 
sides at eighty yards and so on. It was awful — the little craft is 
riddled, riddled. Such a run ! 

Am quite faint — must give up. God bless you, dear. Write to 
me fully. Kiss dear Mary and the rest. 

Your devoted, loving but very ill father, 

J. N. M. 
Miss Florie Maffitt, 

Fayetteville, N. C. 

Lost nearly all our crew with yellow fever at Cardenas, Cuba. 

The cause of my prostration is a relapse after undergoing the 
fearful excitement of a two hours and fifty minutes' bombardment, 
through the Yankee fleet. 

A steamer has just come alongside with a crowd of ladies to 
visit me. Bless their souls ! what would the soldiers and sailors of 

262 The Life and Services of 

the South be worth without their brave and tender cheering appro- 
bation. Can't write another word — am too feeble. 

A second letter, dated September 19, refers to the former 
one and adds : 

Now we have only nine cases and they are doing- well, but we 
are in quarantine and no one is permitted to come on board, or we 
to visit the city. I went up on arriving and remained in bed two 
days, but fearing the citizens were alarmed I returned, though it 
would have been of great service for me to have remained longer. 

Admiral Buchanan has written me quite a complimentary letter, 
and the colonel commanding the fort, who witnessed the entire 
transaction, concludes a long report thus : "As I before reported, 
it was the Confederate steamer Oreto, commanded by Lieut. J. N. 
Maffitt, who has successfully made one of the most brilliant dashes 
on record." But I am so pained and distressed at the loss of Lau- 
rens I have no heart for compliments. Such a looking object as I 
am ! hair gone, pale, cadaverous and thin, you would not know me. 
Mine was a fearful attack ; nothing but a determination not to give 
up and a strong constitution saved me. 

You have no idea what an object of curiosity we are. The Gov- 
ernment has requested all the papers to be silent about us — so the 
enemy will not know what we are. That is useless as they will 
hear from Nassau. 

I never dreamed of such a time as we have had — three men-of- 
war after us for nearly two hours at a distance of only eighty 
yards. Had we not have out-maneuvered them we must have 
been sunk ; and to have saved the vessel under all contending 
circumstances is quite a satisfaction. 

Kiss all for me. I will write to dear Cousin E as soon as I 

am able. I am anxious to hear from you all. 

We will fit out as soon as the fever leaves the vessel, as the Secre- 
tary is anxious for us to be off. Our Army is doing great things. 
God grant it may continue. 

I mend daily, and hope soon to be myself again — that is as near 
as this assault will ever permit. 

God bless you all. Your devoted father, 

J. N. M. 
C. S. S. "Florida," Mobile Bay, 

September 19, 1862. 

John Newland Maffitt 263 

The following communication from the Secretary of the 
Navy was handed or forwarded to Lieutenant Maffitt on board 
the Florida: 

Confederate States of America, 
Navy Department, 
Richmond, October 25, 1862. 
Lieut. Comdg. John N. Maffitt, C. S. N., 
Comd'g Steam Sloop Florida, 
Mobile, Ala. 

Sir: Your letter of the 15th instant has been received; and 
the general outline which you give of your designed cruise is 

Assistant Paymaster Lynch is ordered to report to you, and to 
him you will turn over the funds in your hands. A requisition 
has been made in his favor for $35,000 in coin, which with the 
amount in your hands will make $50,000, in addition to which 
he will have a letter of credit for $30,000. 

The Department does not deem it necessary to give detailed 
instructions for your guidance, relying as it does upon your 
judgment and discretion for the conduct of your cruise, and 
believing that your success will depend entirely upon your free- 
dom of action. 

The capture of one or two of the enemy's treasure and pas- 
senger ships would be a heavy blow to his credit at home and 
abroad, — far greater than the capture of an equal value of prop- 
erty in any other form. 

So long as the existing blockade of our ports shall exist, any 
attempt to run prizes into them will hazard their loss, and you 
will be governed by this consideration in the disposition of prizes. 
Should your judgment ever hesitate in seeking the solution of 
any difficulty on this point, it may be aided by the reflection that 
you are to do the enemy's commerce the greatest injury in the 
shortest time. Since the Sumter started upon her cruise, Federal 
owners of ships and cargoes have adopted the practice generally 
of placing them under British protection, and this may at times 
cause you some embarrassment. 

The strictest regard for the rights of neutrals cannot be too 
sedulously observed, nor should an opportunity be lost of culti- 
vating friendly relations with their naval and merchant services, 
and of placing the true character of the contest in which we are 
engaged in its proper light. 

264 The Life and Services of 

A speedy recognition of our Government by the great European 
powers is anticipated ; and I have no reason to doubt that, if you 
shall seek their ports, you will receive the consideration and treat- 
ment due from neutrals to an officer of a belligerent power with 
which they desire to establish close commercial connections. 

The long and hazardous cruise upon which you are embarking, 
followed as you will be in every sea by enemies in superior force, 
together with your exclusion from our ports, demand a mainte- 
nance of thorough and exact discipline as a matter of vital conse- 
quence. Before leaving Mobile you will endeavor to procure prac- 
tical pilots for such portions of the Bahamas and the West Indies 
as you may be compelled to visit ; and in all respects you will make 
your outfits as complete as possible ; the Department wishing that 
nothing may be left undone that may contribute to vour success. 

You will not hesitate to assume responsibility whenever the inter- 
ests of your country may seem to demand it. 

For the purpose of communicating with your Government you 
will proceed as follows : Obtain at Mobile two uniform copies of 
any small English lexicon or dictionary, one to be retained bv you 
and the other to be sent to the Department. Whenever in your 
letters or dispatches a word is used which may betray what you 
maydesiretoconceal,insteadof using that word, write the numbers, 
in figures within brackets, of the page where it is to be found, and 
also the number of the word on the page, counting from the top. 
Thus, if you desire to indicate the word "prisoner" and should find 
this word on the hundredth page of the book and the tenth from 
the top of the page you would indicate it thus [ioo] 10. In this 
manner you can use a cipher without the possibility of its detection. 

The Florida will have the honor of making the third naval cruiser 
under the flag of the Confederate States, and the Department relies 
with confidence upon the abilities and conduct of yourself, officers 
and men, for its success; and with my earnest wishes for the 
prosperity of your cruise and your triumphant return to your 
country, I am respectfully, your ob't serv't, 

S. R. Mallory, 
Delivered October 31, 1862, Secretary of the Navy. 

Frank Buchanan, 
Admiral, Etc. 

Returning to the journal : 

Fitting out slowly — our wants cannot be promptly supplied. 
The Ordnance Department is as yet in embryo and Lieutenant 
Eggleston has much difficulty in fitting us out, even indifferently. 

John Newland Maffitt 265 

Our tarry has far exceeded my expectations, and all hands are 
very restive. Lieutenant Reed suffers particularly in this and 
has become somewhat bilious. Every passing squall is to him 
a fine night for going out, even though it be of 50 minutes' 
duration only. 

The gentlemen know nothing of my orders, nor that, having 
formed plans, on consultation with Admiral Buchanan, who con- 
trols me, I shall abide by them, notwithstanding all their presumed 
superior judgment. 

In the winter season northeast gales, as a rule, are very preva- 
lent. They last several days, with a misty sky and heavy sea 
upon the bar, both favorable to the Florida's safe exit, and 'tis 
to the interest of the Confederacy that we get out intact, as my 
orders are to assail their commerce only, that the mercantile part 
of the Northern community, who so earnestly sustain the war by 
liberal contributions, may not batten on its progress, but feel all 
its misfortunes. 

As the Alabama and Florida are the only two cruisers we have 
just now, it would be a perfect absurdity to tilt against their 
more than three hundred ; for the Federals would gladly sacrifice 
fifty armed ships to extinguish the two Confederates. 

When a man-of-war is sacrificed, 'tis a national calamity, not 
individually felt; but when merchant ships are destroyed upon 
the high seas individuality suffers, and the shoe then pinches in 
the right direction. All the merchants of New York and Boston, 
who have by their splendid traders become princes in wealth, 
and puffy with patriotic zeal for the subjugation of the South, 
will soon cry, "peace, peace." 

I doubt not but that there will be much criticism and condemna- 
tion among the restless spirits of the service, who are always find- 
ing fault and are yet most faulty themselves. 'Tis a curse in 
military as well as naval life, that gossiping is carried to such 
reprehensible extremes ; and, as a general rule, it belongs to weak- 
minded, shallow-pated persons. 

I am impatient for that northeast gale. Singular, this winter 
has been almost exempt from bad weather, and my tarry has not 
been a matter of satisfaction. Everybody but the Admiral is 
impatient, he seems to fancy the retention of the Florida — con- 
sidering her not badly employed in keeping a large fleet to watch 

December 30. — I have been summarily detached, and Lieutenant 
Barney ordered to relieve me in command. The Department 
expresses astonishment at the delay of the Florida, but fails to 

266 The Life and Services of 

address the Admiral on the subject, or seek any explanation. 
My services (unrequited as they have been) surely entitled me 
to a slight consideration and call for information. The com- 
manding officer was indirectly hit over my shoulders, and Mr. 
Mallory, with characteristic littleness of mind, has permitted 
surreptitious naval gossip to operate, without the least magna- 
nimity of soul or manliness of purpose. 

Fortunately, the President was in Mobile, and Admiral Buchanan 
went to him and represented the gross injustice done me; that 
the Secretary had failed to consult with him, the commanding and 
responsible officer, which he should have done, as by so doing 
he would not have committed so grave an error or gross an 
injustice. The President telegraphed and the action of the Depart- 
ment was annulled. My command was fully indorsed by Mr. 
Davis. News of the capture of the Harriet Lane has been 
received, and I presume Barney will be ordered to her. I trust 
she may get out. 

The following letters are of interest : 

Naval Commandant's Office, 

Mobile, January 6, 1863. 
Lieut. Comdg. John N. Maffitt., 
C. S. Str. Florida, 
Mobile Bay. 
Sir: It is desirable that the Florida should be painted lead 
color when she runs through the blockading squadron. As you 
may not have the paint on board, you can approach very near 
that color by using lampblack in whitewash. A friend from 
Havana sent me word that a vessel of that color cannot be seen 
well at night; he has tried it. When you sail, have the Florida 
prepared in all respects for a fight, hammock nettings taken down, 
men at quarters, etc. Exercise caution and judgment and escape 
the blockaders if possible, without using your guns, as they would 
give the alarm to the whole squadron at anchor and to those cruis- 
ing off the coast. 

Respectfully, your ob't serv't, 

Frank Buchanan, 

Admiral, Etc. 

In a letter to Miss Florie Maffitt, dated April 26, 1863, Gov. 
Thomas Bragg of North Carolina writes, in regard to Lieut. J. 
N. Maffitt: 

John Newland Maffitt 267 

No officer in the Navy surely has done more to deserve every 
possible notice at the hands of his Government. 

Hon. James L. Orr to Miss Florie Maffitt, dated Richmond, 
Va., April 2, 1863 : 

I called to see the Secretary of the Navy [Mr. Mallory] and had 
a long interview with him. He spoke in very commendatory terms 
of his (Lieutenant Maffitt's) spirited performance of bringing his 
vessel into the port of Mobile, and said it had been his intention at 
first to promote your father, but as the service was rather civil than 
military — not having his guns mounted — he had concluded to await 
a suitable occasion when he might promote him in the legitimate 
performance of his duty, and concluded by saying that he had no 
doubt that your father on his present cruise would so distinguish 
himself as would enable the Department to promote him. 

January 11, 1863. 
I made an effort, darling Florie, to get out last night, but the 
clouds all left, and the enemy (thirteen in all) were so plainly 
in sight that I knew I could not pass without having sixty guns 
fired at me — and we would no doubt be lost. So I must abide a 
better time, though exceedingly disappointed. * * * 

Send Mary to St. Mary's [young ladies' boarding-school] and 
Johnnie to a man's school — it is time. Love to every one of the 
household. I am getting ready again and will have to fight my 
way out. 

God bless you, my darling. 

Your devoted father, 

J. N. M. 
Regards to all friends in Fayetteville. 

From the journal : 

January 13. — Made a reconnaissance down to the bar — on our 
return the pilot grounded me off City Point. The Morgan and 
Gaines came to my assistance and we had to take coal, guns, etc., 
out. On the 15th got off, and that night made an ineffectual 
effort to get out — every one disappointed. 

January 16. — Blowing with avidity from the westward — rain 
at night. Had up steam, but the pilot said it was too dark to see 
Light-House Island — in fact, nothing could be distinguished 
twenty yards. At two I was called. The stars were out, but a 
light mist covered the surface of the water. Got underway — the 

268 The Life and Services of 

wind puffy from W.N.W. Double reefs were taken in our top- 
sails and balanced reefs in the fore and main trysails. The top- 
sails I caused to be mastheaded, and the gaskets replaced by split 
rope-yarns which would give way when the sheets were hauled upon 
and the sail set without sending the top-men aloft. Everything 
was secured for bad weather, a double watch set, and the crew 
piped down. At 2.20 all hands were called, steam was up and we 
were heading for the bar. A night of bitter cold had doubtless 
caused the Federal lookouts to obtain partial shelter from the 
stinging blasts of winter, and consequently abate much of their 
acute vigilance. This was the presumption, as to our astonish- 
ment we passed quite near to a blockader inside the bar, and were 
not discovered until abreast of a third, when a flame from the coal 
dust caused our discovery. Then the alarm was given by drums 
beating the call, flashing lights and general commotion, as cables 
were slipped, and 'mid the confusion of a surprise, a general chase 
commenced in the wildest excitement. 

All the steam and canvas that could be applied urged us swiftly 
over the rugged seas, as half a dozen rampant Federals followed 
with intense eagerness on the trail of the saucy Confederate — that 
"rebel" craft whose escape from thraldom was sorely dreaded at 
the North, in visions of burning vessels and commercial disasters. 

From stormy morn to stormy eve the chase is vigilantly con- 
tinued — but the Florida under sail and steam was too fast for the 
Federals. Just before day — when all hands were breathing with 
more freedom — a large sail was discovered right ahead and close 
aboard. It was a steam sloop-of-war under topsails and looked 
like the Brooklyn. We sheered slightly from her, and again went 
to quarters. For some fifteen minutes we were under all her star- 
board guns, and a broadside would have sunk us ; but the only evi- 
dence she gave of seeing us was by showing a light over the star- 
board gangway — and continued gracefully on without further 
notice ; taking us, I presume, for one of their own gunboats that 
are so numerous in this locality. 

A large armed ship was seen to the eastward and a fast gunboat 
on the starboard beam. Our friends from the bar continued after 
us in hot haste. Heavy pitching springs the fore-topsail yard ; to 
fish and repair renders it necessary to unbend the sail and send the 
spar on deck. This is quickly done, but the reduction of canvas 
depletes our speed and the enemy shorten their distance with 
increased efforts to overhaul us. The Cuyler was within three 
miles of us. Their exertions are futile, for our damages repaired, 
the canvas again quickly swells to the storm, showing against the 

John Newland Maffitt 269 

background of gathering darkness a white and fleecy guiding- 
mark for the persistent enemy. 

Desirous of ending the chase, I determined to despoil them of 
their guiding facility for steering. All hands were called to 
shorten sail, and like snow-flakes under a summer sun, our canvas 
melts from view and is secured in long low bunts to the yards. 
Thus shorn of her plumage, the engines at rest, between high top- 
pling seas, clear daylight was necessary to enable them to distin- 
guish the low hull of the "rebel." 

In eager chase the Federals swiftly pass us, following with zeal 
the apparition of the Confederate that to their deluded fancy looms 
up far in the distance. Satisfied with this maneuver, we jubilantly 
bid the enemy good-night and merrily steer to the southward. 

At daylight there was nothing in sight but a foamy sea and black 
clouds. The Florida ran under a pressure fourteen and a half 
knots. She was very wet but rode the sea like a pilot-boat. 

The morning of the 17th was ushered in by. a bright sun and 
moderate northwest wind that betokened a cessation of stormy 
weather. By the log we had made a run of one hundred and fifty 
miles to the southward and eastward since parting with our persist- 
ent fellow-traveler of the previous evening. An officer reported 
from aloft, "Nothing in sight but sky and water," so the customary 
duties of the day were resumed. 


''Sea orders" opened — Instructions brief but to the point — Captures the brig 
Estelle, worth over $130,000 — Takes a few articles and burns her — 
Arrives in Havana and coals — Leaves, and captures and burns the bark 
Windward and brig Corris-Ann — Coal reported useless and steams for 
Nassau — Coals and starts for coast of New England — Is driven by 
hurricane across Gulf Stream and much damaged — Poor capacity of 
Florida and badly cut sails — Captures the Jacob Bell — Takes captain's 
wife, passengers, and crew on board the Florida — Jacob Bell valued at 
two million or more — Burns her — Resigns cabin to ladies and sleeps on 
gun-deck — Vituperation and revenge of Mrs. Williams, passenger on 
Jacob Bell — Arrives at Bridgetown, Barbadoes, and calls on Governor 
— Appoints Naval Agent — Captures Star of Peace, with 850 tons of 
saltpeter, which is burned — Report of Laura Ann — Florida captures 
Aldabaran and burns her — Captures Lapwing and places guns on board 
with officers and men and Lieutenant Averett to command. 

I continue from the journal : 

The "sea orders" of the Secretary of the Navy were opened and 
found to contain brief but distinct instructions in regard to the 
duties I was ordered to perform. 

Being interdicted by all governments from taking the captured 
vessels into any foreign port for adjudication, the only resort was 
burning, or bonding, at the discretion of the commanders afloat. 
Prisoners were to be treated with humanity and kindness, their 
individual baggage respected and preserved from pillage. When 
opportunity offered these prisoners were to be released on parole, 
at the discretion of the commanding officer. Confederate cruisers 
were expected to subsist upon the enemy. As the Confederacy, 
especially in point of naval equality, was numerically no match for 
the United States, gratuitous combats with Federal cruisers were 
to be avoided, as even success would inflict no appreciable injury 
upon the enormous naval power of the enemy. The Confederate 
cruisers were armed for determined defense when battle could 
not be avoided, but not for the indulgence of a quixotism that 
might deprive the South of the power of effectually wounding the 
mainsprings of the North. These instructions were brief and to 
the point, leaving much to the discretion but more to the torch. 

John Newland Maffitt 271 

January 19. — Captured the brig Estelle, cargo and vessel worth 
$130,000. She is, or was, on her first trip from Santa Cruz, Cuba, 
with a full cargo of honey and sugar, for Boston. The officers 
and crew seemed astonished and much gratified with the courtesy 
exhibited to them. All signed paroles, so made no confinements. 
Stood in toward Bahia Honda and ran the coast down for 
Havana to get coal and clothing, for our men were sadly in need. 

I give below the account furnished to a Northern paper by 
Captain Brown of the capture of his vessel, the brig Estelle: 

At one o'clock of the afternoon of January 19, in latitude 23.50, 
longitude 84.17, a three-masted propeller, heavily armed, ran 
down, fired a gun, and as the smoke cleared away, I saw that the 
steamer was a Confederate man-of-war. Although the sea was 
running very high, boats were promptly lowered and a young lieu- 
tenant came on board. He announced that the brig was a prize to 
the Confederate steamer Florida, Capt. John N. Maffitt, and 
directed that myself and crew should pick up our personal effects 
and repair on board. We did so. Captain Maffitt received me 
with great courtesy, invited me into his cabin, and said he regretted 
that it was necessary for him to burn my vessel, that the conse- 
quences of this unnatural war often fell most heavily upon those 
who disapproved of it — he trusted the vessel was owned by aboli- 
tionists. Some few articles were removed to the Florida and fire 
was at once applied to the poor Estelle. She was a new brig and on 
her first voyage. The cargo and vessel were worth over $130,000. 

I was on board the Florida two days, and myself and crew were 
treated with marked courtesy. Captain Maffitt and officers were 
every inch the considerate gentlemen and attentive officers. 1 take 
pleasure in doing justice to my captors, however much I may feel 
in another point of view. Generosity and courtesy on the part 
of enemies should not pass unheeded by, as the rigors of a sad and 
unnatural war may be somewhat mitigated by politeness and manly 
forbearance. I would add that Captain Maffitt returned our per- 
sonal effects, but retained the chronometer and charts. 

John Brown, 
Late Master of the Brig Estelle. 

From the journal : 

At 7.20 p. m. on the 20th of January we entered the harbor of 
Havana. We were hailed and ordered not to pass the guard- 

272 The Life and Services of 

boat, but did not understand until the next day the new law of 
the port, so proceeded in and came to near the admiralty. 

After waiting an hour I went on shore and called upon Major 

The next day, the 21st, I made the amende to the captain of 
the port for entering at night — not being aware of the new regu- 
lation. We commenced taking in Cardiff coal selected by Mr. 
Quinn, engineer. The excitement in Havana on our arrival was 
intense. Crowds were on the wharf, and a very strong Southern 
feeling was exhibited. As the American consul had sent an 
express to Key West we knew that a Federal fleet would be 
around the port in twelve hours, so it was important to be off 
at once. We could not get ready in time, but went to the upper 
buoy near the guard-ship and remained all night. 

As day dawned on the morning of the 22d we left the harbor, 
and this day destroyed two Yankee vessels — the bark Windward 
and brig Corris Ann. The Windward, Captain Roberts, was 
captured four miles from Matanzas, which port she had just left. 
She was burnt and her crew sent ashore in their own boat. She 
was loaded with molasses and bound to Portland. The Corris 
Ann, of Machias, Maine, Captain Small, was loaded with shooks 
(barrel staves) from Philadelphia. 

On the morning of the 23d the engineer in charge reported 
that the coal received at Havana would not make steam. I 
ordered a general survey on the same, which resulted in its con- 
demnation. Could make but three knots with it. As the Federals 
were in sight and could accumulate in overpowering force, I ran 
over Salt Key Banks to the eastward — as it was evident with such 
fuel we could not perform our duty. 

On the 25th ran through, as we presumed, Queen's Channel, 
and shaped our course to clear Green Key, slowing down to three 
and two miles the hour that we should not arrive at the Banks 
until dawn. About 4 a. m. I fancied that the motion was peculiar. 
Went on deck, had the lead hove, and to my surprise was in four 
fathoms. We let go the anchor and awaited daylight. When we 
could see I found that the current had swept about northeast, 
and we had, with singular fortune, passed through a narrow 
channel. We ran out a line of soundings, and at 4 p. m. we were 
all right in the tongue of the ocean. Steered for Nassau. 

January 26. — At 2 a. m. made Nassau Light, and at break of 
day were abreast of it, and when the buoy could be seen I ran 
in and crossed the bar. The pilot joined just as I was inside. 
We anchored, and I was soon informed by my friend Lieutenant 

John Newland Maffitt 273 

Williams that a port law (recently made) had also been infringed 
here. I went with Lieutenant Williams to the Governor, made 
an explanation, and asked permission to coal, which was given 
under the twenty-four hour rule. 

Breakfasted with Lafitte's family and Haylligan, our agent. 

At ii went on board and received the visits of the officers of 
the W. I. Regiment and other friends. 

On shore the demonstration was most friendly and congratu- 
latory. Nassau is decidedly a Confederate stronghold. .Some 
twelve vessels, with cargoes, and several steamers for the South 
were in port. Among the commanders I met Lieutenant Wil- 
kinson of the Navy, who commanded the Giraffe, and was about 
making his second trip. 

January 2.7. — We finished coaling at 10 a. m. Some twenty- 
six men (our hard cases) deserted— obtained several good ones. 
At twelve we were outside and hove to in hopes of filling up 
our crew. At night ran down to Green Key to restow our hold 
and put the vessel in serviceable condition, which could not well 
be done at sea. 

The weather stormy. After all things were put to rights and 
the vessel repainted we made an attempt to pass through Queen's 
Channel, but the mist and breakers obliterated the fair-way, so 
we stood back. 

On the following day made a course to the channel. When 
near it saw a Federal steamer, presumed to be the Saint Jago de 
Cuba, of ten guns. As our cruise had but just commenced and 
its object was the destruction of commerce, I did not think it my 
duty to seek an engagement and run the risk of injury to our 
engine — so kept away. 

The Federal outsteamed us, and had she wished a battle nothing 
was more easy than for her to have come up ; but it seems her 
engine was always deranged as she commenced getting within 
range. We learned afterward that it was the Sonoma, of four, 
and deeply regretted that we did not engage her. 

When we cleared Abico the Federal was nearly hull down. Her 
game was evidently to follow until she fell in with other Federal 
cruisers, and then jointly to attack. 

We stood to the northward with the view of giving the coast of 
New England a small appreciation of war troubles ; but a gale off 
Cape Hatteras did us much injury and we were compelled to cross 
the Gulf Stream to get out of it. By this time our coal was so 
reduced that I was necessitated to relinquish my dash on the New 


The Life and Services of 

England coast and bear up to one of the West India Islands to sup- 
ply the vessel with coal, for the Florida unfortunately stows but 
nine days full steaming coal. 

I deeply regretted the capacity of the Florida and the badly cut 
sails that do so little justice to her beautiful hull. She is too low 
in the water, and her hasty build tells seriously in a sea-way. Lost 
the launch. 

We had to run to the southward and eastward to get out of the 
circle of the gale — it was a cyclone of considerable power. The 
Florida behaved well, though exceedingly wet. Deeply did I 
regret my inability to make the anticipated visit. 

February 5. — A misty night. At 8 p. m. made a steamer on our 
starboard beam; she changed her course toward us and seemed 
very fast. In an exceedingly short space of time she ran close to 
us. We saw she was very large and lengthy. Held a small light 
over the side. After rounding to on our starboard quarter she 
started quite rapidly to the southward, in the direction of St. 

I am convinced that 'twas the Vanderbilt, and we deceived her 
by a small light, mistaking us for some West India trader. To 
have been rammed by this immense steamer would have closed 
our career, and all were rejoiced to see her leave us. 

February 12. — At 10 a. m. saw a large sail on our port beam. 
Gave chase, and at 4 p. m. made a prize of the ship Jacob Bell of 
New York. Her tonnage was about 1,300. and she is esteemed 
one of the most splendid vessels out of New York that trades with 

A message came that the captain had ladies on board and that 
his wife was on the eve of confinement. I sent Dr. Garrettson on 
board to investigate and to say that the ladies must leave the ship, 
as I was determined to burn her. The ladies came, and with tons 
of baggage. I surrendered my cabin to the ladies. The party 
consisted of Mrs. Frisbie (the captain's wife), Mrs. Williams, 
whose husband is a custom house officer at Swartow, China ; a 

lad, Louis Frisbie, and another, Charlie , son of a missionary 

from Rhode Island, now stationed at Swartow. The passengers 
and crew amounted to forty-three persons. 

The Jacob Bell had a cargo of choice tea, camphor, chow-chow, 
etc., valued at two million or more. 

We took such articles as we required, and on the 13th at 4 p. m. 
we set her on fire. 

Mrs. Frisbie was a very quiet, kind-hearted lady; Mrs Wil- 
liams, I fancy, something of a tartar. She and Captain Frisbie 


John Newland Maffitt 275 

were not on terms. They remained in possession of my cabin for 
five days, when I put the entire party on board the Danish brig 
Morning Star, bound to St. Thomas. 

If they speak unkindly, such a thing as gratitude is a stranger 
to their abolition hearts. 

The woman, Mrs. Williams, left some empty hamper baskets 
on board the Florida, and it took Captain Maffitt hours to 
convey her personal baggage from the Florida to the Morning 
Star. He learned after the war that she had claimed insur- 
ance from the company with which she was insured, for this 
baggage as lost, and also had gained possession of some of 
his estate, which was libeled and divided with this informant 
by the Federal Government.* She also wrote a book, "A Year 
in China," in which she grossly misrepresented all the facts 
of her capture and treatment. Admiral Preble sent a copy of 
this book to Captain Maffitt, and after reading the book, my 
husband wrote for Admiral Preble a true account of her whole 
conduct while on board, and of the courtesy with which she had 
been treated. 

On the contrary, when Captain Frisbiet met a member of 
Captain Maffitt' s family in Mystic, or New London, Conn., he 
spoke in the highest terms of the kindness and consideration 
with which he and the whole party had been treated, and 
recognized the loss of his ship as the fortune of war. 

From the Washington Chronicle of March 3, 1863, I copy 
the following: 

The Confederate steamer Florida captured and burned on the 
1 2th of February the ship Jacob Bell, from China, bound to New 
York, with sixteen thousand chests of tea on board. Her cargo 
was valued at one 'and a half millions of dollars. The Government 
duties on the same would have amounted to $175,000. 

*This property has never been recovered, and the deeds and papers now 
in my possession confirm the above statement and show its great 
value. — E. M. 

fThis gentleman also presented Captain Maffitt with an oil painting of 
the Jacob Bell, his personal property. 

276 The Life and Services of 

The Jacob Bell belonged to the house of A. A. Low & Co,, 
of New York, the most radical abolitionists of that city. 

Again from the journal : 

February 25. — We arrived in Bridgetown, Barbadoes. As 
usual we attracted considerable attention and curiosity; the negroes 
were en masse — all very demonstrative in their language and wel- 

What a contrast to the last time I visited this place in the Mace- 
donian frigate in 1841. Then the "Stars and Stripes" floated over 
my head and the "Union" seemed as firm as the rock of Gibraltar. 
Abolitionism was considered treasonable, and the North and the 
South were as one ; for nullification had died a natural death, and 
harmony guided the National association. 

Now, the "Confederate flag," until this day a total stranger to 
Barbadoes, floated from our gaff, and the Florida became the first 
herald of nationality which the inhabitants had seen. 

I called upon Governor Walker and found him quite a pleasant 
gentleman, though much troubled with a nervous disease of the 
system. He seemed in doubt as to the power he had of permitting 
me to coal, but I represented that we had been in a severe storm, 
which had done us much injury, and our fuel had been expended in 
steering out of it. At his request I addressed him a communica- 
tion to that effect and he granted my application : 

"C. S. S. 'Florida/ 
"Barbadoes, February 24, 1863. 
"To His Excellency James Walker, C. B. 

"Sir: Having been much injured in a recent gale of wind, and 
being entirely out of coal, expended in said gale, I have been forced 
into this port for repairs, etc. — 

"Under these circumstances I am under the necessity of asking 
special permission to coal and obtain such lumber as will enable 
me to depart immediately for distant seas. 

"I am most respectfully, your ob't Serv't, 

"J. N. Maffitt, 
"C. S. Navy, 
"Com'g C. S. S. Florida." 

I dined with him (the Governor) at 7 p. m. — a regular official 
dinner, where some twenty guests, nearly all military, were assem- 

John Newland Maffitt 277 

bled. Mrs. Walker is a native of Ireland. Her daughter is quite 
an agreeable young lady. A number of officers were at the table 
and the form and ceremony were rather excessive. 

I found the Governor all the Governor, and while I could divine 
the impulse of his heart, all Southern, yet his personal opinions 
to me were mantled in his official capacity. During the evening 
we had music, and at 9.20 I quietly withdrew and returned on 

The vessel was visited by nearly all the army officers, and I 
found them warmly Southern in sentiment. The gallantry of our 
troops was a theme that engrossed all their enthusiasm, and our 
generals, particularly Lee and Jackson, received many high pro- 
fessional compliments. McClellan they regarded as an able gen- 
eral, but too fond of the spade. 

I appointed Mr. Robert Gordon, of the firm of Gavan & Co., 
Confederate agent, for I found it absolutely necessary to have a 
business friend on shore to attend to such interests as a Confed- 
erate vessel might have at stake. Mr. Gordon is a warm friend 
of the South — a man of wealth and influence; besides he has 
independence and candor in regard to the struggle. 

"To all to whom these Presents shall come, Greetings. Be it 

"Whereas, I, John Newland Maffitt, commander of the Confed- 
erate States steamer of war Florida, have put into the port of 
Bridgetown, in the British island of Barbadoes, for the purpose 
of coaling and provisioning the ship aforesaid ; and whereas I 
have deemed it expedient and necessary that my said Govern- 
ment should be duly and fitly represented at the port aforesaid, 

"Now know ye that by virtue of the power and authority vested 
in me by my said Government, I do hereby nominate, constitute, 
and appoint Robert Gordon, Esquire, of the city of Bridgetown 
aforesaid, merchant, and trading with others under the firm and 
style of Michael Gavan & Company, to be Agent of the Confed- 
erate States of America at the port aforesaid; and I do hereby 
enjoin and command all officers of my Government, both Army 
and Navy, and all merchant captains and others sailing under or 
claiming: the protection of my said Government, to recognize the 
said Robert Gordon in that said capacity. 

"In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal at 
Bridgetown, Barbadoes, this twenty-fifth day of February in the 
year of our Lord 1863." 

278 The Life and Services of 

Two American vessels in ballast were about to sail, and the 
Governor required that I should not depart until they had been 
out twenty-four hours — which gave more time for coaling. 

January 26. — Quite a number of gentlemen came off at dusk to 
call. All were full of zeal in their Confederate sentiments. I 
played the host until a late hour. I then proceeded out, steering 
due east. We ran to the southward, but could make no easting, 
so determined to make Lat. 35 and Long. 30 for the N.E. trade. 

From a copy of Captain Maffitt's report to the Secretary 
of the Navy (of this date, Barbadoes) now before me, I take 
the following: 

When we started from Mobile the engineer in charge reported 
Third Assistant Engineer W. H. Jackson as totally unfit for his 
position, and that he had frequently by his incapacity and negli- 
gence endangered the safety of the engine. I relieved him from 
charge of a watch in the engine-room and placed him with the 
second engineer, that he might be instructed in his profession and 
eventually be made of service to the ship. This officer has again 
been reported as indifferent and inattentive ; his presence proving 
a disadvantage. I have given him permission to return to the 
Confederacy, stating in the said permission the reasons for grant- 
ing it. 

Below is the report of Second Assistant Engineer Charles 
W. Quinn : 

C. S. Steamer "Florida," 
At Sea, February 14, 1863. 
Sir: Agreeable to your instructions at Nassau, N. P., on the 
27th of January, I took Mr. Jackson, third assistant engineer, on 
duty with me. After using my best endeavors to instruct him in 
the care and details of the machinery of this ship, I am sorry to 
say, sir, that his manifest indifference to the interests of this vessel 
has entirely disheartened me. A man must have some energy of 
mind and take some interest in his profession to achieve any good, 
especially under the present circumstances ; and, sir, I beg most 
respectfully that you will relieve me of him, as he only adds ro my 
cares and responsibilities, and is also very embarrassing to me. 
Most respectfully, your obedient servant, 

Chas. W. Quinn, 
Second Assistant Engineer. 
Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, C. S. N. 

John Newland Maffitt 279 

This endorsement in Captain Maffitt's handwriting is 
attached to the above : 

The executive officer of this vessel will relieve Mr. Jackson from 
all duty on board from this date. 

John N. Maffitt, 
Lieut. Comdg. C. S. S. Florida. 
At Sea, February 14, 1863. 

The above officer, Mr. Quinn, subsequently in his report to 
his commander, stated : 

Through his [Mr. Jackson's] ignorance the vessel would have 
been lost had our first attempt to get out of Mobile been carried 
out. Mr. Jackson so fooled with the feed-valve of the forward 
boiler, before coming out of Mobile, as to make it perfectly 
useless; and, sir, had I not by chance found it out and set it to 
rights, the Florida would have been lost had she gone out on the 
15th of January. 

On the 2 1 st of January, Captain Maffitt, through good feeling 
and a good desire to try and make an engineer of Mr. Jackson, 
put him on watch with me, but I must say, as I have said before, 
that Mr. J. is the last man that ought to go in an engine-room as 
an engineer. I have tried and found him deficient as such in all 
its branches. I remain, yours respectfully, 

C. W. Quinn, 
Acting Chief Eng., C. S. Str. Florida. 

August 30, 1863. 

I again turn to the journal : 

March 6. — At 9 a. m. we ran alongside of the Star of Peace, of 
Boston, from Calcutta. She was about 1,000 tons — loaded with 
saltpeter, 850 tons, for the Federal Army, and other valuable 
cargo besides. Took on board Captain Hickly and crew and 
burned the ship. When she was on fire we exercised our guns 
upon her, distant 850 yards. We made some good shots, but the 
roll was so great our accuracy was not up to our expectations. 
At 5.30 p. m. we steamed east, and at 9.30 p. m., when some twenty 
miles from her, the saltpeter ignited, and a more beautiful pano- 
rama was never witnessed on the ocean. Although some twenty 

280 The Life and Services of 

miles from her the flames were so high and so brilliant that the 
focal rays illumined our sails and the ship did not appear more 
than five miles distant. 

The following appeared in the St. Kitts Gazette of August 
13, 1863: 

Captain Warn, of the schooner Laura Ann, arrived yesterday, 
and reports that on Saturday week she was boarded by the Confed- 
erate steamer Florida, Captain Mafntt, who requested Captain 
Warn to take on board twenty-seven prisoners, captured from 
prize ship Star of Peace, of Boston, from Calcutta, laden with salt- 
peter, which vessel was destroyed. 

The captain of the Laura Ann says that the officers and men of 
the Florida are a fine set of fellows, that the ship was neat and 
clean, and that order seemed to reign on board. 

The Florida reports having been chased after leaving Barbadoes 
by the Vanderbilt, and night coming on, she tacked ship and stood 
for the Vanderbilt, all her lights having been extinguished and her 
steam stopped. The Vanderbilt approached and hailed to know 
if a steamer had passed. The reply was, ''Yes, and going at great 
speed right astern." The Vanderbilt kept on after the "will-o'- 
the wisp," and the Florida soon after captured th<? Star of Peace. 

I think the above report in regard to the Vanderbilt incident 
refers to the meeting reported by Captain Mafntt some pages 
back and before reaching Barbadoes, as he does not mention 
in his journal a second meeting at this time. 

March 12. — This day captured the schooner Aldabaran from 
New York, to Marenham, Brazil. Her cargo was flour, provi- 
sions, clocks, etc. We burned her. Captain Hand seemed to 
think it hard that such true Southern Democrats as his father 
and himself had been should have their vessel burned. I found 
him [the father, I presume] quite a clever little gentleman, modest 
and polite. Both he and Captain Hand expressed great opposi- 
tion to the war, which they denounced as a battle for the negro 
and not for the Union. 

We fell in with an English brig bound for Grammock, Scot- 
land. She took Captains Hand and Hickly, mates, and three men. 
We furnished water and provisions as the captain feared he might 
be on short allowance. 

John Newland Maffitt 281 

We overhauled an Austrian bark bound to New York with coal 
for Mr. Cunard of the Royal Mail Steamship Line. Doubted the 
propriety of passing her, but at length gave him all the benefits 
of the doubt. He took a few of our prisoners. We furnished 
provisions and water. 

March 28. — This day at 10 A. m. captured the Boston bark Lap- 
wing, bound to Batavia loaded with provisions, lumber, furniture, 
and two hundred and sixty tons of anthracite coal. The captain 
was terribly excited, not dreaming of a Confederate man-of-war 
in his locality. 

As she seemed to be a fine vessel, I placed two howitzers on 
board and ordered Lieutenant Averett to command her, furnish- 
ing him with two officers and fifteen men* — Midshipman (Acting 
Master) Bryan, Midshipman Dyke, and Dr. Grafton. 


The following instructions to Lieutenant Averett are before 

Sir : I send you a signal book and complement of flags. 

Latitude, ; longitude, 29° 30'; Rendezvous No. 1. The 

Island of F. de N. ; Rendezvous No. 2. 

At a future period I will name such points of rendezvous as 
may be expedient. 

As a general rule you will keep from six to eight miles apart 
from this vessel, that our view may be more extended. Get your 
vessel in good sailing trim and as efficient as our means will 

If by any contingency we may become separated I'll be found 
at Rendezvous No. 1, but if forced into a port for fuel, informa- 
tion will be had at Rendezvous No. 2. In time you will receive 
more men. 

I am, respectfully, etc. 
To Lieut. Comdg. Averett. 

The answer to this is before me and is as follows : 

C. S. Barque "ORETO,"t 
At Sea, March 29, 1863. 
My Dear Sir : Your letter of this morning is at hand. I am 
deeply sensible of your kindness to us, and independently of a 

*Afterward increased to eighteen men. 

282 The Life and Services of 

sense of my duty, my sentiments toward my commanding officer 
will prompt a strict obedience of your orders. 

I respectfully refer to your unbiased judgment whether I ought 
not to have the very best men to be obtained. We may be sepa- 
rated — the chances of war may preclude the possibility of our 
rejoining. In such a case ought I not to have by me men worthy 
of trust, and skilful? 

I am standing a watch and intend to continue to do so till 
everybody has learned his place and feels his sense of duty. Mr. 
Dyke is in charge of a watch with Russ a 26. m. and adviser. 

If we are to keep in sight would it not be better for you to run 
to leeward of me always. You are more weatherly. 

Reciprocating every kind feeling and under many obligations, 
I remain, Very truly yours, 

S. W. Averett. 
Captain Maffitt. 


Captures the M. J. Colcord— Boarded Danish brig Christian and put all 
prisoners on board with liberal provisions— Wrecked and burned 
M. J. Colcord— Seeks Lieutenant Averett and Lapwing— Meets her and 
takes her coal— Lapwing leaks, so revokes orders and directs Lieutenant 
Averett to meet him at Fernando de Noronha— Captures Common- 
wealth, valued at $370,000— Captures Oneida, valued at $1,000,000 
—Captures Henrietta— Reaches island of Fernando de Noronha— 
News of the Alabama— Startled by fire-bell; flames soon extinguished 
—New Governor arrives and requests immediate departure of Florida- 
Florida departs and meets Lapwing— Lieutenant Averett detached and 
Floyd placed in charge with orders to anchor under Rocas Island— 
Florida receives all the Lapwing's coal— Captures the Clarence— Lieu- 
tenant Read proposes to take her and cruise, which is accepted, and 
he takes charge of the Clarence and separates from the Florida. 

From the journal again : 

March 30. — At 8.45 p. m. we captured the bark M. J. Colcord, 
from New York, bound to Cape Town, loaded with an assorted 
cargo. I received on board such necessities as were required. 
Took the crew on board and left the captain and his wife. 

Unfortunately we lost Lieutenant Averett this night. He must 
have had a bad lookout, for we saw him up to 11.30 p. m. We 
fired a rocket and had two lights up. 

April 1. — At 10 a. m. boarded the Danish brig Christian, bound 
to Santa Cruz from Dublin. Put all our prisoners on board, fur- 
nished a liberal allowance of provisions, and then wrecked and 
burned the M. J. Colcord. 

I steamed to the southward with the hope of overhauling Mr. 
Averett. No use. 

April 12. — To this date, in the trades. We have frequently 
chased, but the vessels all proved neutrals. At 11.40 made St. 
Paul's Islets — a cluster of rocks protruding from the bosom of 
the Atlantic in shapes most fantastic — latitude, 55' 30" north; 
longitude, 29 22' west. 

At 2.20, when within a quarter of a mile of them, I sent a boat 
with Lieutenant Stone to obtain sights to correct our chronom- 
eter ; but the boat could not land in consequence of the heavy seas 
that broke all around them. 

284 The Life and Services of 

Fish, sharks, and birds (brodies) swarmed around these jagged 
and dangerous rocks. No reef surrounds the Islets. 

April 13. — Calm, with one heavy shower of rain, which was 
taken advantage of to scrub hammocks and wash clothes. Nothing 
of Mr. Averett — what a misfortune ! The swell is to-day without 
regularity and the barometer fluctuates from 29 90' to 30 30'. 

April 14. — At 10.50 a. m. made a sail to the southward and 
eastward — presumed it might be Mr. Averett. We got up steam 
and ran down for the sail, and at 3 p. m. had the satisfaction of 
hailing the Oreto (late Lapzving), a most fortunate meeting; for 
both had drifted some thirty miles away from the rendezvous. 
The southeast current is very powerful in our position of oo° 10' 
south and longitude 29 16' west. 

At 5 p. m. commenced coaling and continued through the night. 
A more perfect God-send we could not have had at the present 
moment, particularly as our bunkers were nearly empty. 

We found all on board in good health and living like lords on 
Yankee plunder. Mr. Averett was unhappy that he had not cap- 
tured a prize. His vessel leaks, and does not hold a good wind — 
will have to burn her when we expend her coal. Very few vessels 
are to be seen. 

Revoked all Mr. Averett's former orders, and directed him to 
meet me at Fernando de Noronha May 4, when I will take all his 
coal, and have I trust captured one for further use. 

April 15. — Latitude, 7 north; longitude, 28° 54' west. Current 
to-day evidently to the northward and eastward, as we have been 
hove to coaling all the livelong day. 'Tis calm and very hot. Coal 
coming on board quite well considering that we have to boat it. 
Black fish in numerous schools all around us. Midshipman Sin- 
clair sent on board in place of Mr. Dyke — this latter young gen- 
tleman not troubled with professional zeal, though his natural 
ability is excellent. Hope to finish coaling by 12 to-night — surely 
by daylight, when I shall steam to the westward in this calm belt. 

I have always observed that coaling is demoralizing to a ship's 
company. The dirt and temporary abnegation of the usual for- 
mality of a man-of-war produces a general laxity that cannot be 
avoided unless the officers are experienced in proper discipline of 
naval jurisprudence. Unfortunately, the young officers of this 
vessel lack that training. I have good reason to> regret their want 
of vim and early training, that would no doubt have made them 
more observant, careful, and military. They would in battle fight 

John Newland Maffitt 285 

well, but do not seem fully to appreciate the training that is neces- 
sary for the purpose of being formidable when the trial comes. 
Too vapid. 

April 17. — Hove to all night with banked fires. At daylight 
made out several sail, which all proved to be neutrals. 

At 10.20 a. m. captured ship Commonwealth of New York, 
bound to San Francisco, Cal. She was a large and fine ship of 
some 1,300 tons, with a most valuable cargo, sixty thousand 
dollars' worth of which was on the account of the Federal Gov- 
ernment. The ship and cargo was valued at $370,000. I received 
from her what was required on board the Florida and then burned 

Captain McClernel I found to be a most gentlemanly person, 
and the cool and quiet manner which he exhibited under his pecu- 
liarly annoying position quite won my respect. It is hot, very hot 
Papers up to the 19th of March — no particular news contained in 
them. The Yankees print lies with ease and indorse the most 
absurd statements in regard to the South. 

This morning Captain McClernel by his Masonic sign won over 
a French captain, who took him and ten others as passengers. 

April 25 captured the ship Oneida, of New Bedford, from 
Shanghai, China, to New York. She had on board a valuable 
cargo of choice tea, valued at one million of dollars in the United 
States. Captain Potter was rather an odd fish, and seemed to 
think that the rings on his fingers were also to be seized by the Con- 
federates. I told him that we had the example but followed it not. 

On the 23d of April we captured the bark Henrietta of Balti- 
more, bound to Rio Janeiro. Her cargo consisted of flour and 
other provisions. Received her passengers and crew on board 
and burnt the vessel. I placed our prisoners on board a French 
bark, which stipulated to land them at Pernambuco. 

We anchored off the settlement of the island of Fernando de 
Noronha — communicated with the Governor and found that the 
Alabama had sailed from here the day before our arrival. 

April 28. — At 1 a. m. was startled by the fire bell, and found the 
cause in the port bunker, which had fired by spontaneous combus- 
tion. We soon extinguished the flames. 

On May 1 a Brazilian Government steamer came in, bringing 
a new Governor for the island, the late Governor having been 
deposed in consequence of reported extreme courtesy on his part 
to Captain Semmes of the Alabama. On the day of the new Gov- 

286 The Life and Services of 

ernor's arrival he addressed me a long and somewhat absurd 
communication requesting my immediate departure from the 

The following letter is from Colonel Leal, commanding at 
the fort of Fernando de Noronha, Brazil, to Commander 
Maffitt, C. S. Navy, commanding C. S. S. Florida, protesting 
against breaches of neutrality committed in that port : 

Quarters in the Fort of Fernando de Noronha, 

May i, 1863. 
I have been informed by His Excellency the President of the 
Province, in pursuance of an official communication from Major 
Sebastiao Jose Basillio Pyrrho, whom I have just succeeded in 
the command of this port, that Commander Semmes, of the 
steamer Alabama of the Confederate States of America, having 
anchored on the 10th day of April last in the harbor of Ilha Rata 
[Rat Island], near here, remains there in relations with the fort, 
having sailed out several times for the purpose of capturing ves- 
sels belonging to the United States and having returned to the 
same place after taking and burning two, viz., the ship Louisa 
[Louisa Hatch] and the brig Haticory [Kate Cory]. He with- 
drew from this fort on the 20th of the same month. Mr. John 
Maffitt, commander of the steamer Florida, having likewise 
entered this harbor on the 28th of the aforesaid month for the 
same purpose (which is abundantly proved by the fact that the 
aforesaid Mr. John Maffitt put ashore, on the beach of thii fort, 
thirty-two persons who belonged to the crews of the ships Oneida, 
Jacob Bell, and Scja [Henrietta?], after that vessel had been 
burned), and such acts being manifest violations of the law of 
nations and of the neutrality and sovereignty of a friendly nation, 
which has never allowed its territorial waters to be made a place 
of shelter and a base of hostile operations against vessels belonging 
to another nation, this commandancy energetically protests against 
such acts in the name of the Government of his country, and noti- 
fies Mr. John Maffitt, commander of the steamer Florida, in default 
of other more forcible means of signifying his condemnation of all 
such acts, to withdraw from the territorial waters of this island and 
those adjacent within twenty-four hours from the time of the 
official reception of this notice, this space of time being granted to 
him for the sole purpose of providing himself with such supplies 

John Newland Maffitt 287 

as may be indispensable to him in order to continue on his voyage ; 
and, moreover, in the name of his Government he protests against 
the consequences that may result between the Confederate States 
and the Empire from Mr. Maffitt's disregard of this notice. 

This commandancy hopes that Commander John Maffitt will 
not refuse to conform promptly to a notification that is based on 
right and justice. 

At the expiration of the time above mentioned, if the steamer 
Florida shall not have withdrawn, I shall announce that expiration 
by a blank cannon shot, and after that I shall break off all relations 
with the commander and his crew and I shall prevent him from 
having any communication with the shore as far as I am able, and 
I shall refuse to him as effectively as possible any aid or comfort, 
and I renew, in conclusion, the protests which are stated above 
with sufficient explicitness. 

Antonio Gomes Leal, 
Colonel Commanding. 
Mr. John Maffitt, 

Commander of the steamer Florida of the Confederate States 
of the American Union. 

I accordingly departed, and soon fell in with the Lapwing, Lieu- 
tenant Averett, who reported the capture by him of the ship Kate 
Dyer, which he bonded for $40,000, as she had a neutral cargo on 

Lieutenant Averett reported the Lapwing as leaking and totallv 
unfitted for a cruiser. I detached him from the vessel, and receiv- 
ing on board her armament, placed Acting Master T. S. Floyd in 
charge, with Midshipman Sinclair, instructing Mr. Floyd to anchor 
under the Rocas Island, eighty miles west of Fernando de Noronha, 
for the purpose of receiving from him his coal ; which was of an 
excellent quality. 

On the 6th of May we captured the brig Clarence from Rio 
Janeiro, bound for Baltimore, with a cargo of coffee. Lieut. C. 
W. Read proposed to take the Clarence with her cargo and papers 
intact, proceed to Hampton Roads, and, if possible, cut out a 
gunboat, or burn the merchant vessels congregated at Fortress 
Monroe. I acceded to his proposition and stated my plans for 
appearing about the same time on the coast of New England. 

288 The Life and Services of 

I give Lieutenant Read's communication : 

C. S. Steamer "Florida," 

At Sea, May 6, 1863. 
Sir: I propose to take the brig which we have just captured, 
and with a crew of twenty men to proceed to Hampton Roads and 
cut out a gunboat or steamer of the enemy. 

As I would be in possession of the brig's papers, and as the 
crew would not be large enough to excite suspicion, there can 
be no doubt of my passing Fortress Monroe successfully. Once 
in the Roads, I would be prepared to avail myself of any circum- 
stances which might present for gaining the deck of an enemy's 
vessel. If it was found impossible to board a gunboat or mer- 
chant steamer, it would be possible to fire the shipping at Baltimore. 
If you think proper to accede to my proposal, I beg that you 
will allow me to take Mr. Brown and one of the firemen with me. 
Mr. Brown might be spared from this ship, as his health is bad, 
and you could obtain another engineer at Pernambuco. 
Very respectfullv, vour ob't serv't, 

C. W. Read, 
Second Lieutenant, C. S. N. 

To which Captain Maffitt replied : 

C. S. Steamer "Florida/' 

At Sea, May 6, 1863. 

Sir : Your proposition of this date has been duly considered — 
under such advisement as the gravity of the case demands. The 
conclusion reached is that you may meet with success by cen- 
tering your views upon Hampton Roads. The Sumpter (a Crom- 
well steamer) is now a kind of flag-ship anchored off Hampton 
Bar, and at midnight might be carried by boarding. If you find 
that impractical, the large quantity of shipping at the Fort, or 
in Norfolk, could be fired and you and your crew escape to Bur- 
rell's Bav, thence making your way in safety to the Confederate 

The proposition evinces on your part patriotic devotion to the 
cause of your country, and this is certainly the time when all our 
best exertions should be made to harm the common enemy and 
confuse them with attacks from all unexpected quarters. I agree 
to your request and will not hamper you with instructions. 

John Newland Maffitt 289 

Act for the best, and God-speed you. If success attends the 
effort, you will deserve the fullest consideration of the Depart- 
ment, and it will be my pleasure to urge a just recognition of the 

Under all circumstances, you will receive from me the fullest 
justice for the intent and public spirit that influences the proposal. 
I give you a howitzer and ammunition, that you may have the 
means of capture if an opportunity offers en route. 
Wishing you success and a full reward for the same, 

I am, yours very truly, 

J. N. Maffitt, C. S. N. 
Lieut. Comdg. C. S. S. Florida. 

At Lieutenant Read with twenty men and Third Assistant 

Engineer Brown separated from the Florida. 

Captain Brown, of the bark Clarence, is a regular "down- 
Easter," full of biblical lore on slavery, and yet strong on the 
Constitutional rights of the South. Mrs. Flories and daughter, 
thirteen years old, with a son of seven, and infant, became my 
guests. Mrs. Flories had married a Southerner and it was quite 
amusing to hear her Milesian Southern sentiments. 

*This was done by Captain Maffitt in his reports to Mr. Davis, when 
the latter was writing "The Rise and Fall of the Confederacy." 


The Florida arrives at Pernambuco, Brazil — Lieutenant Maffitt communi- 
cates with the Governor — Governor refuses his request — Mafntt's reply 
and interview with the Governor finally obtains courtesies of port — 
Letter to his children — Captures the Crown Point, receives passengers 
and crew and burns her — Proceeds to Rocas Island to meet Lapwing — 
Sad drowning of Dr. Grafton and romance connected with him — Cap- 
tain MafHtt's account of accident — Florida sails for Ceara — Letter of 
Governor of Ceara — Florida captures Southern Cross — Captures the 
Red Gauntlet — Captures the Benj. Hoxie and $105,000 in silver bars — 
Captures V. H. Hill — Captures Sunrise — The Florida attacks the 
U. S. S. Ericsson — She escapes in a fog — Capture of W. B. Nash — 
Rienzie captured — Paymaster James Lynch dies — The Florida salutes 
the fort at St. Georges and the salute is returned — Only salute by a 
foreign government to the Confederate flag — Note in regard to the 
same — List of articles sent into the Confederacy by the R. E. Lee — A 
timely present — Letter from Secretary Mallory to Commander Maffitt — 
Appointed a commander, C. S. N. — Letters from officers of the Florida. 

I resume from the journal : 

On the morning of the 8th of May we arrived off the port of 
Pernambuco. It was five o'clock in the afternoon before the Gov- 
ernor consented to send me a pilot, and received me in the harbor 
with the greatest reluctance. On his attempt to restrict me to 
the twenty-four-hour rule, I made a written protest, and even- 
tually succeeded in obtaining his permission to remain until the 
necessary repairs to the machinery were completed. 

First communication from Lieutenant Commanding Maffitt 
to the Governor of Pernambuco : 

C. S. Steamer "Florida," 

May 8, 1863. 
To His Excellency The Gov. of Pernambuco, Brazil. 

Sir : Serious damage to the engine of this steamer, as well as 
want of fuel, has rendered it necessary for me to enter the harbor 
of Pernambuco. 

I respectfully request the privilege of an anchorage for a few 
days until the vessel can be prepared for sea. Every exertion will 
be made to render her tarry as brief as possible. 

John Newland Maffitt 291 

I take the liberty of remarking that the courtesy which I have 
above solicited has been unhesitatingly conferred upon Confed- 
erate States vessels in their necessities by many different nations 
since the commencement of this unhappy war. 

I am, very respectfully, your ob't serv't, 

John N. Maffitt, C. S. N., 
Lieut. Comdg. C. S. S. Florida. 

The Governor's reply : 

Palace of the Government of Pernambuco, 

May 8, 1863. 

I have received the communication which has just been addressed 
to me, under date of to-day, by Mr. J. N. Maffitt, commander of 
the steamer Florida, of the Confederate States of the American 
Union, which is now on the bank of the harbor of this capital. In 
that communication Commander J. N. Maffitt informs me that the 
engine of his steamer has suffered serious damage and that he 
is in want of fuel, and applies to this presidency for permission 
to anchor in this port for a few days, until his vessel is in a con- 
dition to sail, and promises to make every effort to render her 
stay as brief as possible. The commander remarks that a similar 
favor has been granted to vessels of the Confederate States in 
their necessities by many nations since the commencement of the 
unhappy war in the United States. 

In reply, I have to inform Commander J. N. Maffitt that in the 
attitude which has been assumed by the Empire as a neutral 
nation, and which it is proper for it to maintain, and in view of 
the instructions which this presidency has received from its Gov- 
ernment, it is not at liberty to grant him and his vessel, or to any 
vessel belonging to the other belligerent, anything in its ports 
beyond what is absolutely and strictly indispensable for the con- 
tinuation of his voyage or a stay longer than twenty-four hours 
for the purpose of procuring the same, when he is conducting 
prizes, except in case of forced arrival. 

Consequently, as this condition (i. e., forced arrival) is lacking 
in the case of the Florida, since in addition to steam, she uses 
sails for the purpose of navigation, and since it is known that 
she has on board, as prisoners, seamen taken from vessels which 
she has captured, and also, doubtless, articles that belonged to 
such vessels, although she is not conducting the latter, this presi- 
dency, owing to the instructions aforementioned and to its Gov- 

292 The Life and Services of 

ernment's duty to be strictly neutral, can only permit Commander 
J. N. Maffitt to lie at anchor in the harbor of this city for the 
space of twenty-four hours from the time of the reception of this 
communication, to receive coal and provisions during that time, 
and to get the engine of his vessel repaired, all this so far as is 
absolutely indispensable in order to continue his voyage, he not 
being permitted to remain any longer in the aforesaid harbor. 

This presidency hopes that Commander J. N. Mafhtt, respecting 
as he ought the rights and sovereignty of a neutral and friendly 
nation, will not oppose the slightest objection or resistance to this 
decision, which is based upon justice and right. If he does so, 
this presidency will be obliged, in the name of its Government, to 
resort to such other measures as circumstances mav render advis- 
able and as law and justice may authorize. 


Mr. J. N. Maffitt, 

Commander of the Steamer Florida of the Confederate States 
of the American Union. 

Captain Maffitt's reply to the foregoing: 

C. S. Steamer "Florida/' 

May 8, 1863. 
To His Excellency The Governor of Pernambuco, Brazil. 

Sir: Your communication of this date is at hand (5.40 p. m.), 
in which you accord to me — as a necessity — the privilege of coal- 
ing and remaining in port twenty-four hours. 

It is my duty to inform your Excellency that necessary repairs 
to the engine of this steamer, vital but not extensive, will require 
nearly four days. 

If you insist upon my departing from hence in the time specified 
you assume the responsibility of ejecting a disabled and distressed 
vessel of a friendly power upon the ocean — an act that would 
receive the condemnation of all civilized powers ; and if I mistake 
not the admirable character of your Emperor, would also be 
ignored by him as an improper construction of his edict of neu- 

If I could make the voyage to the ports of those nations who. 
though equally stringent in pronouncing neutrality, yet in distress 
give time and assistance, I would not again infringe upon your 
notice, my respectful but emphatic protest against this twenty- 
four-hour rule under present circumstances. 

John Newland Maffitt 293 

The wording of the Emperor's proclamation of neutrality is of 
such a character as would imply authority in cases of eminent 
necessity, for such repairs as are of a limited and not extensive 

The President of the Confederate States of America is solicitous 
for the cordial consideration of Brazil, and your Excellency may 
rest assured that I fully appreciate the sentiment and shall he gov- 
erned by the same. 

Respectfully, your ob't serv't, 
John N. Maffitt, C. S. N., 
Lieut. Comdg. C. S. S. Florida. 

In an interview with his Excellency I was very much impressed 
with his undisguised fear of the Federal Government. He 
informed me that three of their cruisers would arrive in a few 
days, and implored me to leave at once, as he could not protect me 
from their anticipated violence. I could not but smile at his fears, 
and assured him that we did not require his protection, but simply 
the courtesies and facilities which were due from one friendly 
nation to another. Although the United States influence is very 
great here, yet I think that the majority of the citizens sympathize 
with the Confederacy. 

The Governor's reply to Captain Maffitt' s protest : 

Palace of The Government of Pernambuco, 

May 9, 1863. 
I have just received the communication addressed to me this day 
by Mr. J. N. Maffitt, acknowledging the receipt of one from this 
Presidency bearing date of to-day, whereby the space of twenty- 
four hours was granted to him to remain in this harbor for the 
purposes stated in his communication. Commander J. N. Maffitt 
subsequently states, in his aforesaid communication, that the 
repairs needed by the engine of his vessel are of a vital character, 
and require, in order to be completed, a stay of at least four days ; 
that the insistence on the part of this presidency of his departing 
hence within the time specified involves great responsibility, viz., 
that of expelling from this harbor his vessel, which has been 
declared unable to continue its voyage with safety; that he pro- 
tests against the enforcement of this rule in the condition in which 
his aforesaid vessel is, and that if any accident or loss should hap- 
pen to it serious difficulty would arise from the refusal of sufficient 

294 The Life and Services of 

time for the necessary repairs. Commander J. N. Maffitt adds 
that he considers inhuman and illiberal the manner in which this 
presidency understands the proclamation of neutrality issued by 
its Government. 

In reply, I have the honor to inform Commander J. N. Maffitt 
that it has never been the intention of this presidency to fail to 
fulfil, in the case of the commander and his vessel, the duties of 
humanity that are called for by the neutral attitude which his Gov- 
ernment is obliged to maintain, or to impair his natural means of 
defense and security, or to expose him to imminent dangers which 
he was previously able to avoid, but simply to abstain in the afore- 
said capacity as a neutral from lending him assistance that would 
put him in a better condition for war than he was before, owing to 
his own resources. 

However, since Commander Maffitt insists on declaring that his 
vessel has suffered serious damage in consequence of disasters at 
sea which obliged him to enter this harbor, that the repairs which it 
needs are vital and important, that without them it cannot con- 
tinue on its voyage with the same safety as before, and that, in 
order to complete them, four days at least are indispensable, this 
presidency, accepting those statements as being true and made in 
good faith, and most positively declaring that it is its intention as 
well as that of its Government to be strictly impartial, and since, 
according to the instructions which have been transmitted to it by 
its Government, the de facto Government of the Confederate 
States is recognized as a belligerent for such acts and concessions 
as international law allows with them on the part of neutrals, it 
has resolved to grant to the aforesaid Commander Maffitt the 
privilege of remaining in this harbor the four days which he asks 
for, said days to be reckoned from the date of the reception of the 
communication from this presidency which is this day addressed 
to him, at the expiration of which time the Florida must leave this 
harbor without any further notice whatever, or even sooner, pro- 
vided that the repairs are finished in a shorter space of time. 


Mr. J. N. Maffitt, 

Commander of the steamer Florida 

of the Confederate States of the American Union. 

Extract from a letter of Capt. J. N. Maffitt to his children : 

John Newland Maffitt 295 

Pernambuco, Brazil, 

May 13, 1863. 

I am very well and very, very busy. Last night I saw a gentle- 
man who, ten days ago, dined onboard the Alabama with Eugene ;* 
he was then very well, and in high spirits, having just received 
letters from you all at home, by an English bark. 

I feel happy to tell you that the Florida has been doing a fierce 
business. Up to May 1 1 she has destroyed $9,500,000 of Yankee 
commerce, and eluded thirteen Federal men-of-war sent to destroy 
her and the Alabama, The Florida and Alabama destroyed ten 
of the enemy's largest vessels April 22, within sixty miles of each 
other, but up to May 13 have not met. Regards to Mr. Hale 
[editor of the Fayetteville, N. C, Observer], and ask him please to 
mention (as it may quiet much anxiety) that up to this date all 
are well on both vessels. 

I cannot write what my plans are — the duty is very terrible upon 
one's mental and physical ability ; but I am doing all in my power 
for the benefit of the Confederacy. Dare not write more. I 
embrace you all, my dear children. May God bless you, and ere 
long unite us in peace and prosperity. 

From the journal : 

On the 1 2th of May I sailed from Pernambuco, and on the 13th 
captured the fine ship Crown Point from New York, bound to San 
Francisco, California. I received her passengers and crew and 
burnt the ship. 

I then proceeded on to the Rocas Islands, expecting to meet the 
Lapwing, and remained there fifteen days. 

During our stay Dr. Grafton, our assistant surgeon, visited the 
shore with several officers for the purpose of bathing, and while 
crossing the bar the boat was upset and Dr. Grafton was drowned. 
He was a high-toned officer, a gentleman of irreproachable charac- 
ter, and his loss is deeply deplored. 

I take the liberty of copying the following from the Little 
Rock Gazette of April, 1870, and also the letter in which the 
notice was sent to Captain Maffitt: 

Surgeon J. D. Grafton. 
Many of our readers retain pleasant recollections of Dr. J. Dana 
Grafton, formerly of this city. He passed examination as first 

*Captain Maffitt's son, E. A. Maffitt, who was a midshipman on board the 

296 The Life and Services of 

on the list about 1858 for appointment as assistant surgeon, U. S. 
Navy, and served as such until the commencement of the war, 
when he resigned and was appointed surgeon in the Confederate 
Army. He was a brother-in-law of the late Gen. William E. 
Ashley. The following account of his death is extracted from 
a note to his widowed sister and is from the pen of Capt. J. N. 
Maffitt, of the heroically famous but ill-fated Confederate cruiser 
Florida, on which Dr. Grafton was serving at the time of his death. 
It is a noble tribute to his memory. 

"In the month of May, 1863, while the C. S. steamer Florida 
was anchored off the Rocas Island, near the coast of Brazil, Dr. 
J. Dana Grafton, her assistant surgeon, visited the shore with 
several officers of the vessel. 

"On attempting to return, the cutter was upset by the surf. The 
Doctor obtained an oar, which, if retained, would have been the 
means of saving his life ; but seeing a very young sailor, who was 
unable to swim, about to perish, he generously passed him the 
oar, thus saving his life at the expense of his own. It was a 
self-sacrificing, heroic act, deeply affecting the hearts of all on 
board, who- sincerely mourned his loss and affectionately honored 
his memory. 

"J. N. Maffitt." 

I here give a letter which tells of another sad romance to 
add to the many evoked by this war : 

Little Rock, Arkansas, 

April 15, 1870. 
My Dear Mrs. Anderson : I received your letter enclosing 
Captain Maffitt's memorandum the next mail after I last wrote 
you. Mrs. Ashley was very much touched to receive at last an 
authentic account of her brother's death. I am told that there are 
some people here who believe him still living, and among them 
the lady to whom he was engaged. Her friends desired that the 
notice be published in the Little Rock Gazette, which was done. I 
presume, of course, Captain Maffitt would have no objection. 

In his report Captain Maffitt mentions the death of a seaman 
by the name of Johnson, of bilious fever, whom they buried on 
Rocas Island. This must have reminded him of his own sad 
loss of his step-son, young Read, likewise buried far from 
home and friends. 

John Nevvland Maffitt 297 

His narrative continues : 

Having come to the conclusion that the Lapwing had either 
been captured or was unable to make the island, I proceeded to 
Ceara and filled up with coal, starting from thence eastward. 

Letter from the Governor of Ceara granting permission to 
coal : 

Palace of the Governor of Ceara, 

June 3, 1863. 
In acknowledging the receipt of the communication which has 
this day been addressed to me by Mr. J. N. Maffitt, commander 
of the steamer Florida, I have to inform him that I grant the per- 
mission which he asks merely for the purpose of taking in coal in 
the harbor of this city, he to observe the legal provisions which 
are in force. 

Jose B. Da Cunha Figueiredo. 
Mr. J. N. Maffitt, 

Commander of the Steamer Florida. 

Again from the journal : 

On the 6th of June we captured the Southern Cross, a ship of 
1,000 tons, loaded with logwood. She was from the west coast 
of Mexico, bound to New York. Received aboard the Florida her 
crew and passengers and then burned her. 

From the Hamilton, Bermuda, Gazette of Tuesday, July 7, 
I copy the following : 

The ship Southern Cross, 990 tons burden, Capt. Benj. Howes 
of Boston, Mass., from the Pacific side of Mexico, where she left 
on the 2 1 st of March, bound to New York, laden with logwood, 
was fallen in with by the Florida on the 6th of June, 1° 15' south 
of the Line 36 west, longitude, and after the captain, his wife, 
the three mates and crew, numbering twenty, had been received 
from her, she was set on fire and destroyed. 

The captain of the Florida did not fire at the Southern Cross, 
as he saw a lady on deck. Captain Howes, his wife and officers 
were transferred to a French bark bound to Pernambuco. 

"On the 14th of June," writes Captain Maffitt, "we captured 
the ship Red Gauntlet of Boston, bound to Hong Kong. She 

298 The Life and Services of 

had a cargo of ice, coal, musical instruments, etc. Kept her 
in company for many days for the purpose of receiving her 

From the above named Gazette I note the following : 

The ship Red Gauntlet, 1,200 tons burden, Captain Lucas, of 
and from Boston, out 23 days, bound to Hongkong, laden with 
coal, ice, provisions, etc., was fallen in with by the Florida on 
Sunday the 15th of June, latitude 7 34' east of the Line. The 
Florida took from the Red Gauntlet a full supply of coal, some 
provisions, a full set of sails, and after removing her crew, twenty- 
eight in all, set fire to and left her. 

Captain Maffitt writes : 

On the 1 6th captured the Benj. Hoxie, a large ship from the 
west coast of Mexico, reputed to be bound to Falmouth, England. 
Her cargo consisted of logwood, and one hundred and five thou- 
sand dollars in silver bars. The captain claimed this as a neutral 
cargo, but as his clearance was very irregular, her destination not 
positive with the crew, I could not permit her to pass without 
capture. The silver bars, officers, and crew I received on board 
and burnt the vessel. 

In July, 1896, Clarence D. Maffitt, son of Capt. J. N. Maffitt, 
was on board a vessel which was wrecked three miles from 
Green Key, and all on board swam to this islet, where the 
C. S. S. Florida had been christened. They were rescued and 
taken to Nassau, where Clarence was treated with much 
courtesy. While there he copied a number of articles of interest 
from the old newspaper files in the library. Among them was 
the following, from the Nassau Guardian: 

September 16, 1863. — The ship Eagle has arrived at Liverpool 
from Bermuda with the silver bars taken out of the American ship 
B. F. Hoxie by the Florida. The London Shipping Gazette says 
it is restored to the original consignees. The silver was shipped 
by an English house and insured. It is also stated that the com- 
mander of the Florida on learning of this fact, resolved to restore 
it to its rightful owners. 

Extract from letter in Nassau Guardian, September 26, 

John Newland Maffitt 299 

"We were now close to New York, and on the 8th of July were 
not more than fifty or sixty miles from that city. About 12 a. m. 
this day (8th) we exchanged signals with an English brig. 
Another sail being reported, we started in pursuit, and as the fog 
cleared up saw a large steamer lying by her, and had sent her boat 
alongside. We ran down until we saw the Yankee colors flying 
from her peak. All hands were called to quarters. After maneu- 
vering about half an hour, she finally ran down to us. As soon 
as she was near enough we hauled down the English colors (which 
were flying at the time) and showed to their view the 'Stars and 
Bars,' and at the same time gave her a broadside. Her men ran 
from their after pivot and sought protection behind the ship's 
bulwarks; but the weather was in their favor, for just then the 
fog came on so dense that the Ericsson could not be seen, so all 
we could do was to wait until it cleared up; but judge of our 
astonishment, when it did clear up, to see the Yankee about five or 
six miles ahead of us and traveling for Sandy Hook. Now it 
was we felt the need of good coal. Our brave Captain Maffitt 
offered $1,500 for fifteen pounds steam, but we could get but 
eight and ten pounds although we used pitch and rosin. All hands 
were anxious to catch her, for she had been sent to catch 'rebel 
cruisers,' but she nearly caught a Tartar this time. However, we 
had the pleasure of burning two vessels under her nose — the brig 
Wm. B. Nash, from New York, and the whaling schr. Rienzie, 
from Provincetown, but the crew left when they saw us burn the 
brig. We showed the crew of the Nash the steamer Ericsson 
making tracks for New York. With a sad heart we left the 
Ericsson, and steered for Bermuda, at which place we arrived on 
the 16th inst., and as soon as we coal we leave this place for a 
cruise, and you and your readers may be assured that the Florida 
will maintain her reputation, and do all she can to annoy the 

Extract from the Hamilton, Bermuda, Gazette: 

The ship Ben]. Hoxie of Mystic, Connecticut, 1,300 tons burden, 
Captain Carey, from San Francisco, which place she left on the 
13th of January; last, having since called at Mazatlan and Alta- 
mora, Mexico, bound to Falmouth, England, laden with logwood, 
hides, 30 tons of silver ore, and about $500,000 in bars of silver 
and $7,000 or $8,000 in gold, became a prize to the Florida on 
the 16th of June, latitude 12 , longitude about 29 . 

The captain, officers, and crew, numbering in all thirty persons, 
were removed, and after all the silver bars and the specie had 

300 The Life and Services of 

been taken from her, she was destroyed by fire the following day. 
The silver ore which went down with the vessel was valued at 

The captains and officers of the Red Gauntlet and Benj. Hoxic 
were, on the 19th of June, transferred to an Italian brig bound to 
Falmouth, England, which the Florida met with, Captain Maffttt 
supplying them with provisions for the passage. 

Three of the crew of the Southern Cross, five of the Red Gaunt- 
let, and three of the Benj. Hoxie volunteered on board the Florida 
at the rate of $22 per month, a bounty of $50, and a proportion of 
any prize money. 

From Captain Maffitt's report : 

On the 27th of June captured the whaling schooner V . H. Hill 
of Provincetown, Massachusetts. Bonded her for $10,000, and 
placed our prisoners on board of her with a promise from the cap- 
tain that he would land them in Bermuda. 

The Hamilton, Bermuda, Royal Gazette, July 7, 1863, has 
this to say: 

The whaling schooner Varnum H. Hill of Provincetown, Cap- 
tain Freeman, arrived here on Saturday afternoon last with fifty- 
four seamen put on board of her by Captain Maffitt of the Confed- 
erate steamer of war Florida, to be landed at Bermuda, being the 
nearest port. On the previous Saturday night at half-past ten 
o'clock, then in latitude 30° 50' , and on whaling ground, the V. H. 
Hill was hailed from a steamer passing close under her stern, and 
ordered to lay to, and that Captain Maffitt would send a boat along- 
side for his captain, which he did. 

When Captain Freeman reached the deck of the Florida he was 
informed by Captain Maffitt that he had fifty-four prisoners which 
he wished him to take on board his vessel and land at the nearest 
port, observing that had he not those prisoners he would have 
burnt his vessel, but, under the circumstances, he would require of 
him a bond on the owners of his vessel for $10,000. The Florida 
took from the V. H. Hill two barrels of oil, out of eight, all that 
she had on board. 

The prisoners were then sent on board the V. H. Hill, with pro- 

We are pleased to learn from information received that the 
crews of the prizes whilst on board of the Florida were made as 

John Newland Maffitt 301 

comfortable as they could be under the circumstances. The Flor- 
ida is reported to be a fine ship of her class ; she carries 6 broadside 
and 2 pivot guns, one forward and the other aft, with a crew num- 
bering no men, all fine-looking, with the exception of the volun- 
teers from the prizes. The Captain and officers are very much 
respected by their men. 

We subjoin such particulars in reference to the three large ships 
captured and destroyed by the Florida, as we could obtain from 
their respective crews. The names of the vessel were the South- 
ern Cross, Red Gauntlet, and Benjamin Hoxie. 

Considering that the above is the testimony of prisoners, it 
seems to speak well for the character and bearing of both 
officers and crew of the Florida, and I have given it as evincing 
the enterprise of the press of those days, and the remarkably 
truthful, though in some particulars exaggerated, account of 
the events then taking place. 

Returning to Captain Maffitt's report : 

On the 7th of July we captured the packet ship Sunrise from 
New York, bound to Liverpool. She had a neutral cargo on 
board and a great number of passengers, so we bonded her for 
$6o,ooo. On the 8th of July at 12 M. we sighted a Federal side- 
wheel man-of-war. She had four funnels and was presumed to 
be the United States steamer Ericsson. She had a large crew on 
board and was evidently on a cruise for Confederate vessels. We 
went to quarters, furled sails, and endeavored to get up a good 
head of steam, but the indifferent quality of coal which we had 
received from the Red Gauntlet, of which our fires were then 
made, frustrated all our efforts. As soon as the Federal steamer 
got within range of our guns we opened upon him with our star- 
board broadside, and evidently struck him, as he at once changed 
his course from us, without firing a gun. His superior speed and 
the setting in of a dense fog enabled him to escape. 

By the New York papers which we received from the ship Sun- 
rise, I became aware of the fact that Lieutenant Read had, from 
some cause, deflected from his original instructions and had pro- 
ceeded with the Clarence to the coast of New England, and that 
his great success in the work of capture and destruction had caused 
the Federal Government to send out quite a number of cruisers in 
search of his vessel. Having but a small quantity of good coal on 

302 The Life and Services of 

board, I did not deem it expedient to risk the Florida in the raid 
which I had anticipated. We ran within fifty miles of New York, 
and found that Federal cruisers lined the whole coast, and with 
extreme reluctance I felt it obligatory upon me to retire from that 
part of the ocean. 

At 8 p. M., July 8, captured the brig W. B. Nash from New 
York, loaded with lard and staves. We received the officers and 
crew on board and burnt her. 

From a New York paper I give this account : 

The commander of the brig W. B. Nash has arrived at New 
York from Bermuda, and reports the capture of his vessel by the 
Confederate steamer Florida. The following is the statement by 
the captain of the capture of his vessel : 

"Sailed from New York July 3 with a cargo of lard and staves. 
July 8, latitude 40, longitude 70, at 3 p. m., made a steamer to the 
eastward, standing to the westward, apparently under a full head 
of steam ; passed us about five miles off. She had four smoke- 
pipes and was a side-wheel boat — the Ericsson, chased by the Flor- 
ida. Soon after made another steamer to the eastward, which 
came along and passed us. Soon after she bore up for us and 
came alongside and hailed us to heave to as they wished to send a 
boat aboard, and as the boat boarded us they ran up the Confed- 
erate flag on the steamer and the officer of the boat pronounced us 
a prize to the Confederate flag; ordered myself and part of my 
crew to take our clothes and my papers and go on board the 
steamer, which proved to be the Florida. My charts and instru- 
ments were confiscated, the brig sacked, and then set on fire. After 
burning a whaling schooner which hailed from Provincetown, 
Massachusetts, they steered off the coast as fast as possible under 
steam and canvas and landed myself and crew in Bermuda. 

"July 16. — The Florida's officers were lionized by the authori- 
ties and she was saluted from the fort in the harbor of St. Georges. 
The Florida is not as fast as she is represented, and her machinery 
is getting out of repair. She does not steam over 83/2 knots. 

"The Florida has transferred a portion of her valuable spoils on 
board the Robert E. Lee to be taken to Wilmington, North Caro- 

"The cargo of the W. B. Nash consisted of 686,532 pounds of 
lard and 5,876 staves." 

Another vessel from Bermuda later than the above reports : 

The privateer Florida arrived at Bermuda on the 16th to repair 
damages to her machinery and take in coal. She anchored at 

John Newland Maffitt 303 

first outside, and on the following day was permitted to enter the 
harbor. She saluted the British flag and the salute was returned. 
A considerable interchange of civilities has taken place between the 
officers of the Florida and the shore. The papers teem with com- 
mendations laudatory of the craft, officers, and crew. The Florida 
lately ran within fifty miles of New York, it is said, in search of 
the Ericsson, which she chased some time; but the Ericsson 
escaped in a dense fog. 

From a copy of Captain Maffitt's reports to the Secretary 
of the Navy, which were forwarded to him from this port, the 
following is taken : 

On July 8 captured the whaling schooner Rienzie from Province- 
town, Massachusetts, with a cargo of oil. Her crew had just 
deserted her, having witnessed the destruction of the brig IV. B. 

On the 13th, after a brief illness. Assistant Paymaster James 
J. Lynch died of consumption. He was a zealous officer, respected 
and esteemed by all on board. I brought his remains to this port, 
and on the 17th we buried him in the Episcopal grave-yard. 

After a quarantine of twenty-four hours we were permitted to 
enter the harbor of St. Georges. The vessel requiring calking, 
workmen were at once engaged for that purpose, but there is no 
coal to be had in the place, and all my efforts to obtain Govern- 
ment coal have proved ineffectual. 

Having learned from the military commandant that a salute 
would be returned gun for gun, on the morning of the 16th I 
fired a salute of twenty-one guns, which was responded to by one 
of like number from the fort. We have experienced every degree 
of courtesy and consideration during our sojourn in this place. 

By the arrival of the Harriet Pinckney I will now be enabled 
to coal the vessel. 

By the Robert E. Lee I send in nautical instruments, charts, 
flags, etc., and a quantity of tea and coffee, as a donation from 
the officers and crew of this vessel to the hospitals in Richmond. 

P. S. — I have appointed Mr. John R. Davis, clerk from the 
office of Major Walker, acting assistant paymaster, and the 
accounts of the late Paymaster Lynch, up to the end of the last 
quarter, have been deposited with Major Walker for safekeeping. 

In connection with the above I here give copies of communi- 
cations in regard to the same. Note in regard to salute : 

304 The Life and Services of 

[In pencil by Capt. Maffitt — "The only foreign salute rec'd by the 

Confederate Gov't."] 

Bermuda, July [15th], 1863. 

Sir: I shall be happy to return any salute that Commander 
Maffitt may be desirous of ordering in compliment to Her Majesty 
the Queen. Ten or twelve of late to-morrow forenoon would, 
either of them, be convenient hours. In fact, any hour would 
suit, if I am informed a short time previously. I am, 

Yours dutifully, 

Thursday. William Munroe. 

C. Sloop of War "Florida," 

Bermuda, July 22, 1863. 
Sir : In accordance with your order the following articles from 
the master's department have been sent aboard the steamer Robt. 
E. Lee, viz. : 

Twenty-one (21) chronometers. 

Fourteen (14) quadrants. 

Four (4) sextants. 

Fifteen (15) lamps. 

Twenty-five (25) compasses (in boxes). 

Eight (8) barometers. 

Eight (8) spy-glasses. 

Four bags of charts. 

Two bags of flags and signals. 

Three thermometers. 

Respect., your ob't serv't, 

George D. Bryan,* 

Acting Master. 
To Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, C. S. N. 

A Timely Present. — A lady of Richmond, Va., has received 
the following letter with the articles mentioned : 

"Dear Madam : By Capt. Wilkinson, the officers and crew of 
the Florida send for the sick of our gallant Army, 16 boxes of 
tea and 9 bags of coffee. Also a few boots and shoes. Please dis- 
tribute in accordance with your knowledge of the wants of each 
hospital, and believe me, 

"Yours, most respectfully, etc., 

"J. N. Maffitt, 
"Com'dg C. S. Str. Florida. 
"Off Bermuda, At Sea, July 15, 1863." 

*Now judge of the Probate Court of South Carolina. I am indebted to 
him for the picture of the C. S. S. Florida. 

John Newland Maffitt 305 

Confederate States of America, 
Navy Department, 
Richmond, August 7, 1863. 
Commander John N. Maffitt, C. S. N., 
Comdg. C. S. Steamer Florida. 

Sir: Your letter of the 21st of July dated at Bermuda, with two 
enclosures, has been received, and is the only letter received from 
you since you left the Confederate States. 

You are requested to send duplicates of all dispatches and 
reports from yourself to the Department, as early as practicable, 
through our agents at Bermuda, Nassau or Havana, or by any safe 
opportunity that you may meet with. 

From the newspapers I learn that Assistant Paymaster Lynch 
died on board the Florida and that Passed Assistant Surgeon 
Grafton was drowned. You are requested to report the particu- 
lars in each case. 

The enclosures above referred to are a list of nautical instru- 
ments, charts, etc., sent to Wilmington by the R. E. Lee, and the 
receipt of Mr. I. T. Bourne for four thousand nine hundred eighty- 
eight and three-quarter pounds of silver. I presume your reports 
have stated the particulars of the last-named transaction. Should 
you at any time find it necessary to deposit captured funds to the 
credit of the Government, you will please place them with Frazier, 
Trenholm & Co., Liverpool. 

Herewith you will receive your appointment as commander in 
the Navy. A copy of it was sent to you in May last to Nassau. 
This appointment was made upon the recommendation of the 
Department, by the President, and the reasons for the promotion 
are stated in the appointment. 

I congratulate you and the officers and men under your com- 
mand upon the brilliant success of your cruise, and I take occasion 
to express the entire confidence of the Department that all that the 
skill, courage, and coolness of a seaman can accomplish with the 
means at your command will be achieved. 

If you can make arrangements to receive them, I would send 
you additional officers to enable you to fit out prizes as cruisers. 

Very respect'y, your ob't serv't, 
S. R. Mallory, 
Sec'y Navy. 

306 The Life and Services of 

Confederate States of America, 
Navy Department, 

Richmond, May 6, 1863. 
Commander John N. Maffitt, C. S. N., 
Comdg. C. S. Steam Sloop Florida. 
Sir : You are hereby informed that the President has appointed 
you by and with the advice and consent of the Senate a commander 
in the Navy of the Confederate States to rank from the 29th day 
of April, 1863, "for gallant and meritorious conduct in command 
of the steam sloop Florida in running the blockade in and out of 
the port of Mobile against an overwhelming force of the enemy 
and under his fire, and since in actively cruising against and 
destroying the enemy's commerce." 
Registered No. 28. 
The lowest number takes rank. 

S. R. Mallory, 
Secretary of the Navy. 

Confederate States of America, 
Navy Department, 

Richmond, June 2, 1864. 
Sir : You are hereby informed that the President has appointed 
you by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, a com- 
mander to rank from the 13th day of May, 1863, in the Provisional 
Navy of the Confederate States. You are requested to signify 
your acceptance or non-acceptance of this appointment, and should 
you accept, you will sign before a magistrate the oath of office here- 
with, and forward the same, with your letter of acceptance, to this 
Department, reporting at the same time your residence when 
appointed, and the State in which you were born. 
Registered No. 7. 
The lowest number takes rank. 

I. & B. S. Jones, 

Register, etc. 
S. R. Mallory, 
Secretary of the Navy. 
Commander John N. Maffitt, P. N. C. 

Extract from a letter of a young officer on board the Florida 
to a relative in Mobile : 

Bermuda, July 15, 1863. 

We have captured between twenty and thirty vessels, mostly 
clipper ships. The Yankees have sent all their old hulks in pur- 

John Newland Maffitt 307 

suit of us ; one of them, the Ericsson, found us off New York 
the other day and bravely (?) stood for us. We were in chase 
of a brig and did not alter our course until she came close aboard, 
when Captain Maffitt brought our broadside to bear on her, hoisted 
our colors and fired. In the smoke and fog we lost sight of her, 
but when it lifted we again saw the enemy at a distance of several 
miles under a full head of steam standing to the northward. Gave 
chase for two hours, but as it was near night and within sixty 
miles of New York, our captain thought it best to give up the 
chase, so we had to be contented with burning, in sight of the 
Yankee, two of his nation's vessels. You will recollect that the 
Ericsson was sent out especially to capture Confederate States 
vessels of war, but she did not even return our broadside. You 
have doubtless heard of the noble deed of Lieutenant Reed (our 
third lieutenant) in the Tacony. There have been several changes 
in our ship since we left Mobile. When off the coast of Brazil, 
at a small uninhabited island, we lost one of our doctors, Passed 
Assistant Surgeon Joseph [James] D. Grafton; he was drowned 
by the capsizing of a boat, and, it is said, lost his life by giving up 
his oar to another. Our Paymaster J. J. Lynch (who you remem- 
ber was with us on the coast of North Carolina), nephew of Com- 
modore Lynch, died here last night of consumption. Captain 
Maffitt is well and sends regards. Please remember me to my 
many friends in Mobile whose kindness will never be forgotten. 

Extract from another letter. An officer writes to Savannah 
from Bermuda, July 17, 1863 : 

Our reception here was all that could be desired. To-day, for 
the first time, the Confederate flag was saluted by a foreign nation. 
We heard that the military authorities wished us to salute. Our 
agent wrote to the Governor, saying that we would salute if it 
would be returned. The Governor answered : "The salute will 
be returned gun for gun." At ten a. m. we hoisted the British 
ensign at the "fore," and fired the national salute of twenty-one 
guns. As soon as we had finished, the fort returned, with the 
same number. 

The captain and all the lieutenants are dining at the English 
officer's mess, and I am left in charge of the vessel. At first the 
captain declined the invitation, on the plea that the officers were 
not uniformed. They said they would be glad to receive us in 
our shirt sleeves. We are received with open arms wherever we go. 


Resignation of Engineer Spidell — Capture of the Francis B. Cutting by the 
Florida — Capture of the Hope and the Anglo-Saxon — Notification from 
the engineers that repairs to the shaft and machinery of the Florida 
were necessary — Lieutenant Averett landed at Cork, Ireland, with 
orders to proceed to Paris and make known to Mr. Slidell the condition 
and request him to ask permission from the French Government for 
admission to the National dock at Brest — Letter of Commander Maffitt 
to Mr. Slidell— His letter to the Admiral of Port of Brest. 

While in Bermuda Captain Maffitt received the following 
communication : 

St. Georges, Bermuda, 
C. S. Str. "Florida/"' July 21, 1863. 
Sir: It is with reluctant feelings I confess, in justice to the 
interests of the C. S. Gov't and of myself, my inability to dis- 
charge my duties any longer as engineer in charge of this vessel. 

My health has been impaired to such an extent during this cruise 
that I find myself physically incapable of discharging the onerous 
duties the welfare of this vessel required. 

Therefore I beg leave, sir, to resign the appointment you did 
me the honor to confer. 

With every due consideration of respect, I have the honor to be 
most respectfully, Your ob't serv't, 

John Spidell, 
Acting First Engineer in Charge. 
Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt. 

The only endorsement on this is written on the back by 
Captain Maffitt: "Spidell's Res'g, July 21, 1863." This 
young man had joined the Florida at Nassau, when Captain 
Maffitt first took charge of her, and had gone through all of 
the most trying and dangerous experiences of the Florida's 
cruise, and I am sure that this association was severed with 
regret on both sides, the presumption being that this resigna- 
tion was accepted. 

John Newland Maffitt 309 

Soon after this the Florida left Bermuda, and on August 6 
she captured in latitude 41° 10', longitude 44° 20', the Francis 
B. Cutting, Capt. James T. Maloney. The Francis B. Cutting 
was hove to by a warning gun from the Florida and a second 
shot which passed between her fore and mainmasts. The 
Florida also hove to, at a "distance of one quarter of a mile 
to windward," and sent an armed boat's crew alongside con- 
taining two lieutenants and eight men. 

As soon as the lieutenant in command came on board he asked 
for the captain, then pointing to the vessel to the windward said, 
"That ship to windward of you, sir, is the Confederate sloop-of- 
war Florida, Your ship is a prize. I will put one of my men at 
your wheel, if you please, sir," and ordered one of his armed men 
to haul down my flag. He then asked to see my papers, which I 
showed him; he examined all my bills of lading, and asked how 
many passengers I had, and when told 230 he asked for my signal 
book and code of signals, which I gave him ; he then had a long 
conversation with his ship by telegraph, and finally agreed to take 
a $40,000 bond, which I signed, under condition of Captain 
Maffitt's approval; and sent my chief mate on board with them 
to witness my signature. He then telegraphed me that the bond 
was accepted and returned my mate and we proceeded on our 

The above is taken from Captain Maloney's report of this 
event. Several other captures were made, among them the 
Hope and the Anglo-Saxon. 

From the journal I quote : 

The Florida continued her cruise until a notification from her 
engineers stating that the Florida's shaft required re-laying and 
her machinery overhauling; in consequence of the pressing char- 
acter of her cruising, I determined to run her into the harbor of 
Brest, and apply for permission to dock and repair. We made 
several captures in English Channel, and I landed the executive 
officer [First Lieut. S. W. Averettl at Cork, to proceed to Paris 
and communicate to Mr. Slidell our condition and request that 
he make application to the French Government for our admittance 
to the National dock at Brest. 

310 The Life and Services of 

On our way to Brest we captured the ship Anglo-Saxon with a 
cargo of coal bound to New York. I received the officers and 
crew and burnt the vessel. 

Captain Maffitt's communication to Mr. Slidell : 

C. S. S. "Florida," 
English Channel, August 18, 1863. 
Sir : I am under the necessity of entering a friendly harbor for 
the purpose of making important repairs on both the engines and 
hull of this vessel. 

Having coaled on the 26th ultimo in an English port, I cannot, 
by the "Queen's proclamation of Neutrality," again enter one of 
her harbors until the 26th of October next. 

It thus renders it obligatory upon me to enter a French port, 
and I have selected Brest as the most favorable in all respects for 
the vital repairs that are required on this vessel. 

My chief engineer thinks that 18 days will complete all that is 
necessary, and I respectfully request your interest in obtaining 
time, as well as facilities, in the harbor of Brest. 

The Florida has thus far been put to her fullest capacity, and 
that too without opportunity for such necessary repairs as are con- 
stantly required on board of a steamer. 

Lieut. S. W. Averett of this vessel will present this and more 
fully state the absolute need that exists for immediate repairs. 
I am respectfully, your ob't servant, 

J. N. Maffitt, C. S. N., 
Comdg. C. S. S. Florida. 
To Hon. J. Slidell, C. S. Commissioner, 


Letter from Commander Maffitt to the Admiral of the Port 
of Brest, France : 

Confederate States Steamer "Florida," 
Brest, August — , 1863. 
Sir: In consequence of serious injury to the engine and hull 
of this vessel, I am under the necessity of entering the harbor of 
Brest, and soliciting facilities for repairing the defects that pre- 
vent my remaining at sea. 

John Newland Maffitt 311 

The condition of this steamer's valves and shaft renders it neces- 
sary that she should be docked, and I have to request the courtesy 
of the French Government in my present emergency. 

I am, sir, very respectfully, your ob't serv't, 

J. N. Maffitt, C. S. Navy, 
Commander C. S. Steamer Florida. 
To Admiral Comte Guedon, 
Com'g the Station at Brest. 


Narrative of Monsieur du Belley — He goes to help of Commander Maffitt — 
Excitement and absurd rumors in regard to the Florida — Letter 
demanding from her commander restitution of captured goods — Visit 
to the Admiral of the port — Success of application — Resume of the 
cruise of the Florida published in Ocean de Brest — The officers visit 
the shore and attend the theater — Favorable impression made — Attack 
of the newspapers on the Florida and her officers inspired by the 
slanders of one Marlespine — Maffitt's calm reply and protest — The 
official journal of the Government silences all and fixes the status of 
the Florida and all Confederate vessels thereafter — Maffitt compelled 
to apply for a leave of absence — He and Monsieur du Belley dine at 
Cafe de France — Anecdote. 

The narrative given below is a translation from the private 
journal of Monsieur Pecquet du Belley (Judge du Belley), 
which has been kindly presented to me by his daughter, Made- 
moiselle Noemie du Belley. It gives in graphic style the events 
following the advent of the Florida at Brest. Captain Maffitt 
was greatly indebted to this gentleman for obtaining for him 
the facilities and courtesies of the port of Brest, as well as the 
permission to dock and repair at the Government's Yard. He 
was kindly entertained at this gentleman's home in Paris, and 
ever expressed a warm appreciation of his friendship. 

Narrative of Monsieur du Belley 
chapter XI 
[Page 55-3 
Hon. Geo. Eustis' ability. — His diplomacy in regard to the Florida, 
with details of the Florida's arrival at Brest. — Interesting 
narrative of Commander Maffitt. — Status of the Florida 
announced in the Moniteur. — John Bull's appreciation of 
Southern heroes under the inspiration of V. Clicot, etc. 
The first opportunity I had of testing the business capacities 
and diplomatic talents of the Secretary of the Confederate Com- 
missioneur, the Hon. George Eustis of Louisiana, was in the 
Florida's case, Commander Maffitt. Having reached so far, in 

John Newland Maffitt 313 

the midst of European Confederate operations, it is refreshing* 
and more than gratifying to have to record the respective merits 
of these two gentlemen. 

In their presence one feels like a man meeting with a rose after 
passing through a thorn bush. 

Mr. Eustis is a quiet and unassuming diplomatist, and a perfect 
gentleman. Possessed with a good knowledge of men and things, 
active and intelligent. I have never known him to boast, nor have 
I ever seen him fail in any of his negotiations with regard to the 
interests of the Confederacy. Unfortunately for the South, his 
sphere of action zvas too limited. 

After a long cruise the Florida had entered the port of Brest 
sadly in want of repairs. She had been lying in the roads for 
more than a week unable to obtain permission to enter the docks, 
when Mr. Eustis, acting as Commissioneur (the Commissioneur 
Slidell was then at Biareitz), desired me to go to the relief of 
Commander Maffitt. The fact that none of his staff spoke a word 
of French made it impossible for them to accomplish anything 
either with the authorities of the port or with the business men 
of the city. 

The presence of the Confederate vessel in French waters had 
created a sensation which, extending rapidly all over the Empire, 
resounded in Paris as a thunderstorm. 

When I reached Brest that city was laboring under great excite- 
ment. The most astounding rumors were going the rounds, and, 
strange to say, were fast obtaining credence among the people. 

"The Florida's hull was filled with gold captured from the 
enemy. Commander Maffitt was a sea wolf whose thirst for blood 
could not be quenched ; his officers the most desperate pirates that 
ever roamed over the ocean ; his crew the refuse of the earth, a 
set of desperadoes and cut throats. Before entering the roads, 
the Florida had been seen with several corpses hanging from her 
masts." Some declared that it was a shame for the French Gov- 
ernment to shelter such accursed pirates ; others demanded their 
immediate expulsion from la Belle France. 

Proceeding to that which I thought most pressing, I left the 
rumors to run their course, and immediately informed Commander 
Maffitt that, at the request of Mr. Eustis, I had come to assist 
him in his present difficulties, and that I waited for his instruc- 
tions. The following answer was sent on shore : 

314 The Life and Services of 

"On Board the Confederate Steamer 'Florida/ 

"September 5, 1863. 
"P. du Belley, Esq. 

"Dear Sir : I send a boat for you. Please come on board and 
take your quarters in the cabin as there is much to discuss. 

"Yours respectfully, 
"J. N. Maffitt." 

Upon getting to the Florida I found her captain and staff in a 
rather desponding mood. In sight of a city after a stormy cruise, 
they might as well have been shut up from the world. The ship 
was in such a condition that she could not put to sea, and she 
could not get ashore for want of proper understanding with the 
naval authorities. 

After a lengthy consultation with Captain Maffitt, I returned to 
Brest to prepare an early interview with the Admiral commanding 
the military port. However, just as I was about leaving the ship 
a French officer boarded the Florida. He had been sent to arrange 
the preliminaries for removing her powder magazine. 

A letter was also delivered to the captain, which he handed to 
me, asking me to take charge of the matter to which it referred. 
This letter was from the agent or attorney of a Bordeaux House, 
which attempted a little later to seize the Florida. It read thus : 

"To Captain Maffitt, Commander of the Corsaire the Florida. 

"Sir: I represent the owners of the merchandise which you 
have burnt on board of the ship Nash, Captain Coffin, notwith- 
standing the fact that it was the property of a French merchant. 

"My desire is to settle this business amicably. I therefore hope 
that you will call at my office, re. 17, rue de la Rauspe, to pay the 
bill which my clients hold against you. I would be sorry were 
you to compel me to seize the Florida. 

"(Signed) Clerc anie, 

"Batonmerde 1' ordee des avocats." 

Upon my advice, this document, though bearing the signature 
of such an important personage, was completely ignored. 

The next morning I accompanied Captain Maffitt to the 
Admiral's palace ; there we were to meet with a favorable circum- 
stance which went a great way to smooth the difficulties ahead 
of us. 

When we were announced, the Admiral Comte Guedon warmly 
greeted Captain Maffitt. He grasped his hand, saying, "I have 
followed the different phases of your cruise with deep interest ; I 

John Newland Maffitt 315 

have admired the courage and devotion of your staff. I am happy 
to inform you that my Government has instructed me to extend to 
you the hospitality of Brest" and turning to me, he added, "your 
name is familiar to me. I have for a considerable time com- 
manded the Mexican Gulf Station, and have been very kindly 
received by the many families of the city of New Orleans, and one 
of them bore the same name as you do." "That was my family," I 
answered. "Well," replied the Admiral, "so much the better, then 
we will be able to arrange our little matters, 'en famille.' " Where- 
upon, Captain Maffitt explained his wants. The Admiral then 
called one of his aides-de-camp, presented the Captain to him, and 
requested him to attend to the Florida. From that moment every 
obstacle fell before us as by enchantment. 

The following day the little Confederate craft was towed to 
the dock and delivered to the care of the engineers of the French 
arsenal, the people crowding on the quay to look at her, as she 
passed by with her colors flying, with curiosity and diffidence. 
They no doubt remembered the ugly stories which were daily told 
about her crew. 

Whilst on the one hand. I assisted Captain Maffitt in his negotia- 
tions and in giving out his orders, on the other, I took hold of the 
Florida's log book, and made a resume of her cruise, which I 
caused to be published in the Ocean de Brest, a newspaper with 
which I had held a previous correspondence. The insertion of our 
"resume" quieted that good city of mariners in putting to naught 
all the villainous stories which had been set afloat by the agents of 
the Bordeaux house, with the especial design of frightening Cap- 
tain Maffitt into the payment of their ridiculous claim! 

The young officers of the Florida having been able by this time 
to replace their well worn-out uniforms with new ones, their sun- 
burnt faces having somewhat bleached, I thought it was time to 
make a turnout. The opening of the theatrical season offered a 
favorable opportunity for putting my plan into execution. I advised 
the Captain to show himself with his staff at that place of public 
resort. Their appearance at the performance was quite an event. 
They were steadily gazed at during the whole evening-, and they 
came out victorious from public scrutiny. When the curtain fell 
on the last act, the men declared that the Confederate officers were 
too gentlemanly in their deportment to be pirates, the women swore 
that they were too young, too handsome, and looked too modest 
to be guilty of the crimes with which they were reproached. The 
following day they were invited to the different clubs of the city, 
and were called upon to relate their dangers and their many nar- 

316 The Life and Services of 

row escapes from the enemy. Indeed, the change in public opin- 
ion was so great, they had so completely mastered the good will of 
the people, that when the Kcarsarge made her appearance a com- 
mon French sailor ran up to our lodgings to inform the Captain 
of her arrival in Brest, and to give him full details about her 
strength, her armament, and her crew. 

If the Florida had gained ground in the estimation of the people 
of Brest, and of the French naval officers, the Parisian newspapers 
on the contrary were laying it hot and heavy upon her commander, 
officers and crew. The most lenient of their remarks pronounced 
them to be a set of scoundrels, who in justice to humanity ought 
to be turned over to the United States authorities to meet with the 
penalty of their crimes. On a special occasion the language used 
by the Opinion Nationale was so scandalous, that I called the at- 
tention of Captain Maffitt to the charges brought against him, by 
one of the editors, a Mr. Marlespine. 

( i ) This writer of the Opinion Nationale had lived for many 
years in Louisiana and later had taken his abode in New Orleans. 
Unable to secure a suitable position for himself, some Southern 
gentleman had subscribed the necessary capital to create a news- 
paper under his direction. This newspaper made its appearance 
under the title U Union; it advocated slavery and Southern rights. 
It lived a few months, after which its chief editor suddenly disap- 
peared, to be afterward found in Paris, among the most violent 
enemies and calumniators of the New Orleans people, his former 
benefactors, when that unfortunate city fell into the Federals' pos- 
session and was submitted to the ignominious rule of General 

It was given to Mr. Marlespine to realize the Creole proverb, 
Rendre service bailie chagrin. 

The slanders of Mr. Marlespine and of the Opinion Nationale 
elicited from Captain Maffitt a response which was sent to the 
journal La Patrie, and which this impartial and high-minded 
newspaper published in its number of the 14th of September, 1863, 
as follows : 

"Brest, September 12, 1863. 

"Sir: The leading article of your journal of the 12th instant 
contains two errors which I ask permission to rectify. 

"The article in question says, 'two incidents have just taken 
place in France and in England which relate to the American 
question. The first is the seizure at Brest by a French merchant 
shipping house of the Confederate privateer (corsaire) Florida. 
The parties claim from the commander of the Florida an indemnity 

John Newland Maffitt 317 

of frs. 100,000 for the loss of a vessel belonging to their house and 
sunk by the Southern privateer/ 

"Upon the first point I can assure you that in spite of threats 
from certain persons pretending to have claims against the Con- 
federate corvette, there has been no seizure up to the present mo- 

"I protest in the most energetic manner against the second 
charge. The Florida has never had occasion to sink a French 
ship and the assertion is utterly false. Upon this point I desire 
to refer you to the letter recently published by M. Pecquet du Bel- 
ley in l' Ocean de Brest, which contains a true account of the 
incidents in connection with the meeting which took place between 
the Florida and the French ship Bremontier. 

"As to the qualification of privateer which you give to the cor- 
vette which I have the honor to command, it no doubt proceeds 
from the fact that your information of the armament of the Flor- 
ida is erroneous. 

"A privateer from the definition given by Noel et Chapsal is — 
'a vessel fitted for war service by private individuals under the 
authority of a Government.' 

"This definition is, I believe, generally adopted by all authors 
who have treated the questions of international law. It is little in 
accordance with the real position of the Florida. 

"This corvette was built and armed by the Government of the 
Confederate States of America. Its officers hold their commis- 
sions from that Government, it carries the National flag and the 
war ensign (flamme de guerre). She receives her instructions 
directly from the Secretary of the Navy of the C. S. A. The 
European powers having recognized the belligerent rights of the 
Richmond Government, among which figure those of raising 
armies and of arming men-of-war, it is difficult for me to under- 
stand that the fact of my Government not being yet officially recog- 
nized, deprives it of rights which are inherent to all de facto gov- 
ernments, in order to make that Government descend to the rank 
of a private individual fitting out privateers, and thus changing 
the nature and character of its National war vessels. 

"Such an interpretation of international law cannot, it appears 
to me, be sustained by any argument. Relying upon your impar- 
tiality, I beg you to have the kindness to insert this letter in the 
next number of your esteemed journal. 

"With great respect, etc., I remain yours, 
"(Signed) J- N. Maffitt, 


318 The Life and Services of 

The letters and dispatches of Hon. Geo. Eustis, in this circum- 
stance by far the most delicate and important which occurred in 
France during the whole war, testified to his great business capac- 
ity and to his real diplomatic talents. His intelligent labor was 
crowned with legitimate success. A few days after the insertion 
(or publication) of Captain Maffitt's letter in La Patrie, Le Moni- 
tcur, official journal of the Government, on the 16th of September, 
1863, rewarded Mr. Eustis's efforts and the gallantry of the Florida 
with the following official notice : 

"The steamer Florida, now undergoing repairs at Brest, is not 
a privateer, as it has at first been supposed. She belongs to the 
military Navy of the C. S. A. Her officers are furnished with 
regular commissions and she possesses all the characteristics of an 
ordinary war vessel." 

This notice of the Imperial Government decreeing the national 
status of the Florida at once cleared the judicial dockets of the 
Confederate ship and silenced the vituperations of her enemies. 
Prosecutors and persecutors were left to regret their malice and 
to repent their folly. 

$ $ $ $ $ $ & 

Thus ended the Florida's first cruise. A self-sustaining vessel, 
she left the port of Mobile with a crew hardly sufficient to man 
her and a staff of officers the oldest of whom was hardly twenty- 
seven years of age. Thwarting the vigilance, energy, and efforts 
of his old brother officers of the United States Navy, Captain 
Maffitt inflicted heavy losses upon the commercial marine of his 
enemies, and finally took the Confederate colors into a French port 
and had the honor of settling, with the aid of the ablest of the 
youngest of the Confederacy's diplomatists, the most vexed ques- 
tion of international law raised by the late American war, i. e., 
the absolute right of the Confederate States of America to own 
men-of-war under a National flag. This glorious achievement 
ought to have gratified the pride of every Southerner and endeared 
Captain Maffitt to the heart of every true Rebel. Such was not 
the case, as will be seen hereafter. O jealousy ! O envy ! 

The Florida was now nearly ready to go to sea ; but a severe 
attack on the heart compelled Captain Maffitt to apply for a leave 
of absence, which was readily granted. Captain Barney was 
appointed in his stead. 

Our respective missions being now accomplished, Captain 
Maffitt and myself both proceeded to Paris. 

I thought that I was through with the Florida; not so. If at 
Brest I had to fight against and conquer public opinion, in Paris, 

John Nevvland Maffitt 319 

to my utter astonishment, I was soon called upon to defend the 
captain against the attacks of the Confederates ;* and I must own 
that they proved much more recalcitrant than public opinion. 

I was invariably greeted with the following remarks : "You 
are just from Brest. All is well with the Florida, I understand. 
Damned fine fellow that Maffitt. What a pity he should drink so 
as to render himself unfit for service ! Of course you know that 
he has been discharged from duty," and many other similar 
speeches, every one of which was as ridiculous as it was slander- 
ous. I had been with Captain Maffitt for more than a month ; 
living with him under the same roof, never losing sight of him. 
I had never seen him drink one drop of liquor ; and if he had ever 
indulged on board ship, the Federal officers who have pursued 
him with pertinacity can bear witness to the fact that it had no 
other effect than to sharpen his natural keenness and nautical 
abilities. I may well in this circumstance appropriate the answer 
which Mr. Lincoln is reported to have given to a delegation which 
called upon His Excellency to complain of General Grant's intem- 
perance ; and with the late President, I will say, that if Captain 
Maffitt ever made too free use of spirits it is a pity that President 
Davis did not procure some of the same kind and send a barrel 
thereof to each and every one of his European agents. Such a 
gift would have been a magnificent coup d'etat, especially if it 
could have worked their brains as it acted upon the mind of the 
much abused but gallant Maffitt. 

Before parting with our Confederate seaman, I beg leave to 
relate an anecdote of which he is the hero. 

A short time after we had arrived in Paris, he asked me to dine 
with him. We walked into the Cafe de France, on the place de 
la Madelaine, a restaurant celebrated for its excellent wines and 
for its delicious table. We were almost through with our meal 
when two Englishmen entered the room and sat down opposite 
to each other at the next table to ours. As was natural in those 
days to every good John Bull, after proceeding with general 
remarks, they soon came to discuss the events of the American 
war, and when they had felt the rapturous effect of the generous 
wines of the Cafe de France they expatiated upon the merits of 
the respective American heroes (to judge from their preferences 
they were both good Southerners in their sympathies). One 
admired General Lee, the other thought more of General Beaure- 
gard ; one praised the quickness of the lamented "Stonewall," the 
other expressed his great admiration for the English firmness and 
steadiness of General Longstreet. By this time our two friends 

*Confederate only in name, not in heart. 

320 The Life and Services of 

had reached a certain state of mental happiness. The one sitting 
opposite to Captain Maffitt suddenly exclaimed, "Well, I say, none 
of these chaps can compare with that fellow Maffitt! He's my 
man, by God ! and he comes up precisely to my idea of a hero ! I 
only wish I could see him. I am told he is in Paris. If I had 
the good luck to meet him, I'll be d — d if I would not call for the 
very best bottle of Veuve Clicot!" 

I felt very much inclined to answer, "Call for that champagne, 
sir !" but I chanced to look at Maffitt. My companion was pale and 
seemed to be distressed ; his imploring countenance nailed my 
tongue. He called for the bill, and when we had left the room 
he looked as much relieved as though he had just run through a 
blockading squadron. 

;j; :j: :): >ic ^f. ^ ^ 

An important point had been gained; the status of the Con- 
federate ships had been established beyond control [recall] by 
the note of the Moniteur Officiel. They could henceforth enter 
any French port and claim all the immunities and privileges apper- 
taining- to men-of-war. 


Captain Maffitt applies for a detachment on account of ill health — Letters 
from Commander M. F. Maury, C. S. N., granting the relief asked for 
— Application of crew of Florida — An English visit to the Florida — 
Reception by Captain Maffitt — Has narration of the events of the cruise 
of the Florida — Exhibits book in which all the prizes were regularly 
entered — Gives reasons for his application to be relieved — After rest 
takes command of the blockade-runner Florie and returns with a cargo 
to the Confederacy. 

Early in September Captain Maffitt addressed the Secretary 
of the Navy from Brest, and informed him of his movements 
from the time he left Bermuda until he reached Brest, where 
he was then awaiting permission to dock the Florida. In the 
closing paragraph of his letter he says, "I regret to inform the 
Department that in consequence of impaired health, I shall be 
under the necessity of applying for a detachment from the 

Captain Maffitt seems also to have written to Commander 
Mathew F. Maury, Confederate Naval Agent abroad, stating 
his desire to be relieved from the command of the Florida on 
account of his health. 

The two letters given below are from Commander Mathew 
F. Maury, Confederate Naval Agent abroad : 

Hotel de i? Amiraute, 
Rue Neuve, St. Augustine, 

Paris, September 9, 1863. 
Sir: I have received your letter of the 5th inst. inclosing the 
surgeon's certificate with regard to your health and asking to be 
relieved from the command of the Florida on that score. 

I am grieved to learn that your health has given away under 
the severe trial it has undergone on the Florida, and I am sure 
our countrymen will also learn with regret that they have to lose 
even for a time the services of an officer who has done so much 
to spread the fame of their flag over the seas. 

322 The Life and Services of 

Let us hope that your health may be speedily restored. 
An officer will be sent as early as practicable to relieve you. 
In the mean time, I would be glad to know your wishes as to 
the length of your leave to remain in Europe, or as to orders for 
returning home. Respectfully, etc., 

M. F. Maury, 
Comd'r, C. S. N. 
Comdr. J. N. Maffitt, 
Rue des Provinces. 

Paris, September n, 1863. 
Sir : Commander J. N. Barney has been ordered to relieve you. 
He will deliver this communication to you, upon which you 
will turn over the command of the Florida to him ; consider your- 
self detached from her; and as soon as the state of your health 
will allow, you will repair to the Confederate States, and report 
yourself to the Secretary of the Navy. 

Be pleased to confer freely with Commander Barney as to your 
unexecuted plans, give him copies of all the orders and instructions 
of the Navy Department relating to the cruising of the Florida, 
or the service upon which you have been engaged in her. 

Also make him acquainted, if you please, with the condition of 
the vessel and the arrangements for her repairs, etc. 

M. F. Maury, 
Comdr., C. S. N. 
Comdr. J. N. Maffitt, 

C. S. S. Florida, Brest. 
Rec'd Sept. 17th, '63 (by Capt. M.). 
Reported 8th June, '64. 

S. R. Mallory, Sec. 

Application from the crew : 

Brest, September 16, 1863. 
Captain Maffitt. 

Sir : We having heard that you are about to leave us to take 
command of another C. S. vessel, and having received so much 
kindness and consideration from you, most respectfully desire to 
be transferred to the vessel you are to command. Hoping, sir, 

John Newland Maffitt 323 

that you will not consider our writing to you any breach of dis- 
cipline, but as a desire to be again under your command, 

We are very respect'y, your most ob't serv'ts,_ 

Wm. Boynton, Coxswain. 

John Ross, Q. M. 

Wm. Sharkey, Seaman. 

Wm. Patten, Seaman. 

James McDonald, Seaman. 

John McDonald, Seaman. 

James Hawthorn, Seaman. 

Wm. Wilson, Seaman. 

Thos. F. Brown, Seaman. 

Thos. Kehoe, Qr. M. 

Wm. Covel, Qr. M. 

John Hogan, Fireman. 

Mathw. Woods, Fireman. 

James Hewett, O. Sea. 

The next event of interest in Captain Maffitt's career is 
narrated by a correspondent of the London Times, who writes 
a highly interesting account of a visit to the C. S. steamer 
Florida while lying at Brest, France. I make some extracts 
from the letter, which will be found to repay perusal : 

An English Visit to the "Florida." 

I had no difficulty in making out this now celebrated vessel, as 
she lay at anchor among some of the giants of the French Navy — 
a long, low, black, rakish-looking craft, not over smart in appear- 
ance/yet useful every inch of her — a pigmy among these monsters, 
and yet a formidable pigmy, even to the unpracticed eye, the pal- 
metto flag flying proudly from her mizzen. We happened to have 
a French Vice-Admiral and a Senator of the Empire on board, 
and you may imagine there was an infinity of gossip but no reliable 

When we landed at the cale in the harbor the crowd which 
usuallv assembles to welcome or pester newcomers was full of "La 
Floride" and her doings. "Elle a," cried an enthusiastic Commis- 
sionaire to me, "elle a Monsieur, je vous assure sur me parole 
d'honeur pour deux million de livres sterling a bord, tout en or, 
je vous assure." "Eh ! Mon Dieu ! c'est beaucoup !" cried a smart 

324 The Life and Services of 

little mousse from the Turenne. I could not help agreeing with 
the mousse that the sum named was certainly a great deal. 

That evening (aided by my fellow-traveler, Mr. Henry Tupper, 
vice-consul of France in Guernsey, and one of the jurats of that 
island) I found some of the officers of the Florida at the Hotel de 
Nantes (rue d'Aiguilion). Lieut. Lingard Hoole (a young man 
who apparently did not number more than three and twenty 
years) received us courteously and gave us his card to assure us 
admission on board. He stated, however, that his superior offi- 
cer, Captain Maffitt, was generally to be found on board his vessel 
and would be glad to see us. The frankness, courtesy, and total 
absence of boasting, manifested by this young officer, impressed 
us most favorably. 

All next day it blew a gale of wind in the rade, and we could 
not find a boat to venture out. To-day, however, the weather was 
most propitious, and early morning found us alongside of the 
Florida. We sent our cards to Captain Maffitt and were immedi- 
ately admitted on board ; the Captain himself coming to the top of 
the companion to receive us. Directly Captain Maffitt understood 
that we were British subjects, he invited us below into his little 
cabin, and when I told him that there were many people in Eng- 
land who regarded his career with great interest, he entered very 
freely into a recital of his adventures. 

Of the Captain himself I may say that he is a slight, middle- 
sized, well-knit man of about 42, a merry-looking man with a 
ready, determined air, full of life and business — apparently the sort 
of man who is equally ready for a fight or a jollification, and whose 
preference for the latter would by no means interfere with his 
creditable conduct of the former. His plainly furnished little 
stateroom looked as businesslike as a merchant's office. The 
round table in the center was strewn with books and innumerable 
manuscripts, and on the shelves were formidable-looking rows of 
account books, charts, etc. I may observe of the cabin as of every 
part of the Florida, that none of it appears to have been built for 
ornament — all for use. "You see," said the Captain, pointing to 
the heaps of papers, letters on files, account books, etc., which liter- 
ally littered the table, "you see I've no sinecure of it. Since my 
paymaster died I've had to be my own paymaster. There is a 
young man named Davis (no relation to our President) who does 
paymaster's duty, but he's not yet quite up to the work." 

Captain Maffitt began an animated recital of his career and 
adventures. He is forty-two years old and is the oldest officer on 
board. All the officers were born in the Confederate States and 

John Newland Maffitt 325 

most of them were officers in the United States Navy, before the 
outbreak of the war. The oldest of the officers is not more than 
twenty-three. The men are more mixed. There are one hundred 
able seamen on board the Florida, and about thirteen officers. 
Four fine fellows are from the neighborhood of Brest. Captain 
Maffitt says he has hardly ever taken a prize but what some of the 
crew of the prize have come forward to say, "Should like to serve 
with you, sir." Generally speaking, he has to refuse, but if he 
sees a very likely fellow he takes him on. 

Captain Maffitt was a lieutenant in the United States Navy, 
before the outbreak, and in that capacity distinguished himself 
greatly. In 1858 he commanded the brig Dolphin when he cap- 
tured the slaver Echo, with four hundred slaves on board, and 
took her into Charleston. For this feat his health was drunk at a 
public dinner in Liverpool ; and it is a curious fact for those who 
maintain that the civil war in America is founded upon the slave 
question, that the commander of this important Confederate 
cruiser should be the very man who has distinguished himself 
actively against the slave trade. In 1859 Captain Maffitt com- 
manded the United States steamer Crusader and captured four 

The Captain told of his successful feat at Mobile, and spoke 
warmly of the incidents of the affair and pointed proudly to the 
marks of shrapnel, which are numerable enough, upon the masts 
and smoke-stacks. The Florida was struck with three heavy shots 
on that occasion, and one can easily perceive in the side of the 
ship where the mischief caused by the 11 -inch shell has been 
repaired. The Florida made no effort to reply to the fire which 
she received, the sea running too high to admit of steady aim, 
and her small crew being too much occupied in the management 
of the ship. The Captain showed us a water-color sketch, very 
well done by one of the midshipmen, of the Florida running the 
blockade. It would not have disgraced a professional artist. 

The only broadside which the Florida fired in anger was against 
the Ericsson, an armed merchant ship which she encountered some 
forty miles from New York. The Ericsson, a very large vessel, did 
not reply, but made the best of her way off, and succeeded in 
escaping. When they ventured within forty miles of New York 
they did not know that the arrival of the Tacony (one of their 
"outfits") had put the New Yorkers on their guard, and they soon 
found that there were about seventy armed vessels out searching 
for them, and so were glad to retreat. "We never seek a fight," 
said Captain Maffitt, "and we don't avoid one. You see we've only 

326 The Life and Services of 

two vessels against 1,500, so we should stand a poor chance. Our 
object is merely to destroy their commerce, so as to bring about 
a peace. We have taken, altogether,* seventy-two prizes, and 
estimate the value at $15,000,000. The Jacob Bell alone was worth 

The Captain exhibited a book in which all the prizes were regu- 
larly entered and all particulars relating thereto. He explained 
that their mode of procedure was to burn and destroy the property 
of the Northern States wherever they found it. I asked if they 
took gold and precious articles, and the reply was, "Pretty quick 
when we get them." The papers of the burned prizes are all kept, 
and a valuation is made before the destruction of the vessel ; in 
the expectation that when peace is restored the Confederate Gov- 
ernment will make an appropriation of money equivalent to the 
claims of the captors. In consequence of this arrangement there 
is very little actual treasure on board the Florida, and the officers 
and crew are working mainly on the faith of the future independ- 
ence and solvency of the Confederacy. "Anyway," said Captain 
Maffitt, "we have cost the Government very little, for we've lived 
on the enemy. Oh, yes, we've served them out beautifully." 

In reply to some questions as to the methods of capture the 
Captain said, "We only make war with the United States Gov- 
ernment, and we respect little property. We treat prisoners of 
war with the greatest respect. Most of those whom we have 
captured have spoken well of us. To be sure we have met with 
some ungrateful rascals, but you meet with these all the world 
over. The last prize we took was the Anglo-Saxon, which we 
took in the English Channel, about sixty miles from Cork. She 
had coal on board and we burnt her. The pilot was a saucy fellow, 
and maintained that he was on his piloting ground. He insisted 
on being landed in an English port, but we could not do that. I 
brought him and twenty-four men here to Brest, and sent them 
to the English consul. If the pilot has any just claim upon us, it 
will be settled by the Confederate Government. That's not my 
business. My business is to take care of the ship. When the 
Florida came into Brest she had been at sea for eight months 
without spending four entire days in port. Before entering the 
port of Brest, she had not been more than twenty-four hours in 
any one port ; although she visited Nassau, Bermuda, Pernambuco 

♦Including those captured by the Clarence and Tacony, the Florida and 

John Newland Maffitt 327 

and Ceara (Brazil). Yes, indeed, sir," said the Captain, "two 
hundred and forty-five days upon solid junk, without repairs or 

In all this time they had only lost fifteen men, including those 
who were killed and wounded at Mobile, the paymaster (who died 
of consumption), and one officer who was accidentally drowned. 

They have come into Brest to repair the engines, which are 
somewhat out of order, the shaft being quite out of line. The 
Emperor has given orders that the Florida is to be admitted into 
the port for all necessary repairs and is to be supplied with every- 
thing she may require, except munitions of war. 

In the course of conversation Captain Maffitt gave me an account 
of what he called the "outfits" of the Florida. They have been 
three in number. The Clarence he captured off Pernambuco on 
the 5th of May, and Lieutenant Reed was put on board with 
twenty men and one gun. These were afterward changed to the 
Tacouy, a better vessel which was captured shortly after, and, to 
borrow Captain Maffitt's expression, "she captured right and left.'' 
Finally she took the revenue cutter off Portland harbor. The 
other "fit out" was the Lapwing, on board of which Lieutenant 
Averett was put to cruise on the equator. He made several 
captures and has now returned to his ship. 

Captain Maffitt showed us over his ship, which was in pretty 
good order, considering the eight months' uninterrupted cruise, 
and he presented us both with a photographic picture of her 
which was taken at Bermuda. The Florida mounts only eight 
guns — six 48-pounders of the Blakeley pattern, made at Low 
Moore, and stern and bow chasers. 

On taking our seats, I asked Captain Maffitt whether he 
expected to be interrupted on leaving Brest, pointing at the same 
time to the Ooulet — the narrow passage which affords the only 
ingress and egress to and from the rade. "Well," replied he, "I 
expect there will be seven or eight of them out there before long ; 
but I'm not afraid. I've run eight blockades already, and it'll go 
hard, but I'll run the ninth." 

Captain Maffitt writes : 

The demand on my physical ability had been excessive, nor had 
I entirely recovered from the effects of yellow fever, which still 
clung to me, and was militating against my general usefulness. 
For this reason I was compelled to apply for detachment, which 
being granted, Commander Barney became my successor. Con- 

328 The Life and Services of 

suiting' a distinguished physician in Paris, he pronounced my heart 
affected from tropical disease, and after putting me through a 
course of severe treatment, started me off for Sweden, not to 
rest, but to travel for health. 

Necessary as was this rest and recreation for both mind and 
body, yet, as my husband has often remarked, it was with 
eagerness that he looked forward to being able to return to 
his duties; knowing how important it was as the struggle of 
the South progressed that each man should be at his post. The 
moment therefore that it was possible for him to return to the 
Confederacy he did so. He took command of the blockade- 
runner Florie and returned with a cargo to the Confederacy. 


Article written by the Hon. Francis C. Lawley, M. P., in London Daily 
Telegraph, inserted by courtesy of Mr. James Sprunt — Mr. Lawley 
takes passage to the South in the Lilian, Capt. J. N. Maffitt in command 
— They leave Nassau for Wilmington — Encounter a vessel apparently 
on fire and go to her rescue — She proves to be a Federal cruiser — 
Description of the Lilian — Approach the Cape Fear and are attacked by 
blockader — Exciting chase of more than two hours — Close alignment 
of blockaders and their formidable approach — The Lilian passes them 
so closely that all marvel at her escape — She nearly runs down a launch 
— Captain Maffitt receives orders to the C. S. ram Albemarle — Letter 
from Gen. Robert E. Lee — Communications from Brig.-Gen. L. S. Baker, 
S. R. Mallory, and others, with endorsements, in regard to a contem- 
plated attack on the enemy's gunboats by the Albemarle — Captain 
Maffitt ordered to command a blockade-runner which proves to be the 
Owl — Instructions of Secretary Mallory — Statement by Captain Maffitt 
of the captures made by the Florida while under his command — Eugene 
Anderson Maffitt — Tribute to him by Captain J. M. Kell — Letters and 

I am indebted to Mr. James Sprunt, senior member of the 
firm of Alexander Sprunt & Son, the largest individual cotton 
exporters in the United States, and who is also British vice- 
consul at Wilmington, North Carolina, for the privilege of 
copying the following account of a run into Wilmington from 
Bermuda made by Captain Maffitt while in command of the 
Lilian. This article appeared first in the London Daily 
Telegraph of January 8, 1897, and was written by the Hon. 
Francis C. Lawley, M. P. 

Mr. Sprunt writes, in "Regimental History," Vol. V: 

One of the most distinguished Englishmen who espoused the 
cause of the South during the civil war was the Hon. Francis 
C. Lawley, a kinsman of Gladstone, who was subsequently editor 
of the famous London Telegraph and later a member of Parlia- 
ment. He came to General Lee as a Times war correspondent, 
accompanied by Lord Wolseley, with whom he ran the blockade. 
The personal devotion of these distinguished strangers was warmly 
reciprocated by the great Southern chieftain, to whom both Wolse- 

330 The Life and Services of 

ley and Roberts have referred as one of the foremost military 
leaders in history, Wolseley placing General Lee before all others. 
A few years ago Mr. Lawley wrote in his inimitable style sev- 
eral papers in the daily London Telegraph on the subject of his 
personal experience in blockade-running. His reference to a voy- 
age in my ship, the Lilian, prior to my appointment as purser for 
three voyages, led to a pleasant correspondence in which we 
exchanged notes on the same theme. I trust therefore that this 
is a sufficient apology to the Telegraph for copying that part of 
Mr. Lawley's most interesting allusion to blockade-running at 

From Mr. Lawley's article I quote : 

On arriving at Bermuda — as lovely a little group of islands as 
eye could rest upon — I found that the same good luck which 
throughout the war attended my blockade-running efforts, did not 
desert me on this occasion. Two brand-new vessels, both built 
by Messrs. Thompson, of Glasgow, and both credited with behav- 
ing during their voyage out from England like capital sea boats, 
lay in the harbor of Hamilton, Bermuda, ready to sail next day 
for Wilmington in North Carolina. The distance in a bee line is 
674 miles, and by that time (1864) the sea was alive with fast 
Yankee cruisers of all sizes and descriptions. From the moment 
that a blockade-runner left Bermuda or Nassau, she was liable to 
be sighted by the Vanderbilt or by the James Adger, or some other 
fourteen or fifteen-knot boat, which allowed her to get some hun- 
dred miles out to sea, so that she could not double back and take 
shelter in a British port, and then went for her, as poor Brumley- 
Davenport sings, "With the Rush of the Limited Mail." Fortu- 
nately by that time the builders of the light gossamer craft, with 
three funnels apiece (the only strong and heavy articles in them 
being their big tubular boilers, capable of standing a tremendous 
pressure of steam), knew how to send blockade-runners out to 
sea with a knot or two more per hour "up their sleeves" than their 
fastest pursuers could boast. 

Two ships, the Lilian and the Florie, lay in Hamilton Harbor 
when I entered it on the last day of May, 1864. They seemed like 
a couple of beautiful steam yachts of about 500 tons but without 
rigging-. They were painted a dull leaden gray color, to make 
them as invisible as possible at sea. Their engines were of course 
in tip-top order; plentiful supplies of Welsh steam coal brought 
out from England, enabled them to fill their bunkers just before 

John Newland Maffitt 331 

starting. The weather was beautiful and everything portended 
a swift and successful trip. The only question still to be decided 
was to which of the two should I commit my fortunes. Both 
were to start for Wilmington next day, June I, and each claimed 
to be faster than the other. The same company owned both, and 
bets had been freely made by their respective crews as to which 
would reach Wilmington first. The Lilian was commanded by 
Captain Maffitt, an officer of the United States Navy before the 
war, who had followed the South when she seceded from the 
Union. I knew that Captain Maffitt was a favorite of General 
Lee, who was always glad to relieve the strain upon his mind by 
listening to his old friend's sea yarns, and one glance at his reso- 
lute, straight-forward face made me determine that I would go 
with him. He was in truth a fine specimen of a sailor, and the 
more I saw of him during our short three days and four nights 
voyage, the more I liked him. 

We started in the evening almost abreast of the Florie, our sister 
ship, with which we kept company until darkness fell. The sea was 
like a milldam. What wind there was blew from the right quar- 
ter, and during that first night our little company of passengers, 
eight in number, enjoyed themselves as Englishmen and Ameri- 
cans always do when there is a spice of danger and adventure in 
the job upon which they have embarked. The cool sea breeze 
was delightfully refreshing after the hot coral rocks of Bermuda, 
and no vigilant Yankee steamer, such as the Rhode Island, from 
whose too-strenuous attentions many a blockade-running vessel 
had suffered on putting forth from Bermuda, seemed to be in pur- 
suit. We all slept like tops, and when morning came a fairer sight 
than that which presented itself never had met my eyes at sea. 
Not a vessel was anywhere visible to the lookout perch — aloft in 
the crow's nest, the Florie had disappeared, the sea sparkled in the 
glorious sunshine, and lots of flying-fish, the first I had ever seen, 
emerged from the ocean, and after a short, sharp flight of two or 
three hundred yards dropped again into the billowy depths. I 
confess that I was never tired of watching them, much to Captain 
Maffitt's amusement, who had seen more than enough of flying- 
fish when in command of the Orcto, afterward the Florida, with 
which he audaciously ran into Mobile in broad daylight, and 
although cut to ribbons by the heavy short-distance fire of the 
blockaders, got safely through without being sunk, and moored his 
little vessel at Mobile wharf, more than thirty miles distant from 
Fort Morgan, the Confederate fort which guarded the entrance to 
Mobile Bay and kept the blockaders at a respectful distance. 

332 The Life and Services of 

Returning to the "airy, fairy Lilian," we had got about 350 
miles away from Bermuda, where Captain Maffitt's quick eye dis- 
cerned a sail upon our port bow, enveloped in a dense canopy of 
smoke. She lay in a part of the ocean continually swept by Fed- 
eral cruisers, and our wily Captain well knew that nowhere was 
more guile displayed by both belligerents than in connection with 
blockade-running. The vessel might very likely prove a trap to 
lure the Lilian on to her destruction, but after carefully scrutiniz- 
ing her through his glasses, Captain Maffitt came to the conclu- 
sion that she might be on fire. Time was ineffably precious to us, 
but after generously exclaiming, "No luck can betide a vessel 
which leaves a comrade in distress at sea," our humane Captain 
ordered our course to be altered, and bore down upon the stranger. 
She was soon made out to be a Federal cruiser, emitting a dense 
white cloud with her Cumberland coal, and beating rapidly east- 
ward in pursuit of another outward-bound delinquent. The 
Lilian's helm was therefore changed and she resumed her original 

Meantime, the fine weather had deserted us, and the noon of our 
third day out was so dull and dark that it was impossible to take 
an observation. It was generally believed by the Captain and his 
officers that ere day dawned on the following morning it was possi- 
ble that we might make a run into Wilmington, and onward we 
pressed. The Lilian's sharp bow seemed to cleave the waves like 
a razor, and the exhilaration of flying through the water at a speed 
which defied pursuit, raised our spirits to such a pitch that Charles 
Mackay and Henry Russell's famous old song, "There's a Good 
Time Coming, Boys !" burst in chorus from our lips, followed by 
such familiar Confederate war strains as — 

"Then let the big guns roar as they will, 
We'll be gay and happy still ; 
Gay and happy, free and easy, 
We'll be gay and happy still." 

Before long, however, the Captain silenced our ill-timed mirth, 
and soon our position, as we drew nearer and nearer to the land, 
became too excited to admit of irrelevant ebullitions. 

It was impossible at such a moment to withhold one's admiration 
from the fitness of the vessel under our feet for the purpose for 
which she had been built, and also for the perfection of the system 
under which she was handled, and which experience had already 
shown to be necessary to give her and her consorts every chance 

John Newland Maffitt 333 

of success. When night fell not a single light was visible in any 
part of the ship, and no one under any circumstances was allowed 
to smoke, lest his cigar or cigarette or pipe might be seen by a 
lookout on board of one of our vigilant enemies. Steam was 
blown off under water, our coal made no visible smoke, and our 
feathering paddles no noise ; our hull rose only a few feet out of 
the water; our only spars were two short lower masts with no 
yards, and only a small crow's nest in the foremast. The forward 
deck was constructed in the form of a turtle-back to enable the 
Lilian to go through a heavy sea. Our start from Bermuda was 
so well timed that a moonless night and high tide were secured for 
our running into Wilmington. For the rest, we trusted to our 
speed, which, as will shortly be seen, saved our vessel next day 
from capture, and ourselves from the distinguished honor of pass- 
ing a few months as prisoners in the Old Capitol, or in a fort 
off Boston or Baltimore Harbor. The blockading vessels, too, 
were admirably managed. No lights were carried by them except 
on board one vessel, that in which the flag admiral sailed. She 
changed her position every night and the absence of strong lights 
on shore, discernible two or three miles away from Fort Fisher, 
greatly augmented the difficulty of hitting New Inlet, a narrow 
channel leading into the Cape Fear River. Moreover, the vessels 
which maintained the blockade were provided with calcium or 
rather incandescent lights, which they flashed forth on the slightest 
provocation, and also with rockets, which they let off in the direc- 
tion a blockade-runner was taking — talking to each other, in fact, 
with colored lights at night as effectually as they did with signals 
by day. 

It will be readily imagined that during our third night out from 
Bermuda, going to bed was far from our thoughts. The night 
wore rapidly away ; 2 o'clock, 3 o'clock, 3.30 came, but no eye peer- 
ing through the thick gloom could descry the light on top of the 
mound at Fort Fisher. Then, as morning dawned, Captain Maf- 
fit stopped his engines and prepared to lay to for the day between 
the outer and inner cordon of blockaders. It was too much to 
hope that for sixteen or seventeen hours of broad daylight we could 
escape observation in that cruiser-haunted neighborhood ; never- 
theless, from 4 in the morning till 1.30 p. m. we were unmolested. 
Then the tall masts of a big steamer, her immense paddle-wheels 
and lofty black hull, hove in sight from the direction of Wilming- 
ton, going at full speed, and by the keen eye on board of her the 
little Lilian was instantly descried. Before we could get up steam 

334 The Life and Services of 

fully, our gigantic enemy drew uncomfortably near, and orders 
were given to have all the mail bags carried by the Lilian made 
ready, in case of capture, to be dropped with weights attached to 
them into the all-devouring ocean. Several shots flew over our 
heads or dropped by our side, but going at such a pace it is not 
easy to hit a little vessel with projectiles fired from the unstable 
platform of a pursuer going fifteen knots an hour through a lumpy 

Presently our beautiful little craft began to answer in earnest 
to the driving power within her, as a thoroughbred horse gallantly 
responds to the spur of his rider. As the pressure of steam 
ascended from fifteen pounds to twenty, from twenty to twenty- 
three, from twenty-three to twenty-six, and as the revolutions of 
the paddle mounted from twenty-six to twenty-eight, from twenty- 
eight to thirty-three per minute, the little vessel flew out to sea 
swift as a startled wild duck. Before two and a half hours had 
passed the hull of the big Yankee was invisible and her topgallant- 
sails a mere speck on the distant horizon. As, however, she and 
doubtless others of her sisters lay between us and Wilmington, 
it became necessary to run around them. Our helm accordingly 
was changed, and as the sun dropped into the sea our pursuer, 
though a long way off, still hung upon our rear. There was noth- 
ing for it but to stick to our course ; but such had been the speed 
of our flight that the inside blockading squadron was clearly 
sighted by us before the close of day- Grim and forbidding 
enough in all conscience the black hulls looked, and so close did 
they lie to each other that it seemed hoping against hope to expect 
that a little craft like ours would pass unscathed between them or 
among them, taking the fire of two or three broadsides at little 
more than pistol range, or that she could eventually escape destruc- 
tion at the hands of such formidable antagonists. But in com- 
mand we had a captain who, in broad day, had braved the worst 
that the blockaders off Mobile could do to the little Florida, with- 
out being scared or sunk. It is at such moments that you realize 
how paramount is the influence of a dauntless chief upon all around 
him ; and it is felt more in so confined a space as the deck of a 
ship than in a great battle on land. Nevertheless, we could not 
but perceive — indeed Captain Maffitt's anxious face told us so — 
that our position was far from comfortable, pursued as we were 
by a vessel a few miles off to the rear, which clearly saw us, and 
swiftly approaching a powerful squadron of heavily armed block- 
aders, which had not yet caught sight of the Lilian's two masts, 
but might do so at any moment. 

John Newland Maffitt 335 

Fortunately for us, before we got close in night fell. The 
crews on board the blockaders were taking their evening meal as 
we approached them, and I suppose the lookouts were not quite so 
sharp as they undoubtedly became before the end of the war. 
Not a moment was lost by Captain Maffitt, or by our excellent 
pilot, a Wilmington man, when darkness had fairly settled upon 
the face of the deep. Silently and with bated breath we crept 
slowly in, passing blockader after blockader so close that at every 
moment we expected a brilliant light to flash forth, turning night 
into day, and followed by a hurricane of shot and shell, which 
might easily have torn the little Lilian to pieces. It was destined, 
however, that upon this occasion she was not to receive her bap- 
tism of fire, for the shots sent after her by her big Yankee pursuer 
hardly deserve the name. Just as we approached the big mound, 
close to which Fort Fisher stands, a dark spot was discerned on 
the bar. It was a Federal launch groping for secrets, or perhaps 
sinking rocks and other obstructions into the channel immediately 
under the fire of Fort Fisher's guns. I am afraid if Captain Maffitt 
had been a little earlier he would have run her down. As matters 
stood the launch escaped, and those on board were either too 
much scared to fire a musketry volley into us, or reluctant to do 
so, as Fort Fisher would doubtless have opened upon them, and 
as I had many subsequent opportunities of ascertaining, her guns 
were seldom fired without effect upon any object within their 

Another moment, and we lay safe and sound below the mound, 
eagerly asking for news from within the Confederacy, and as 
eagerly questioned in our turn for news from without. Moreover, 
the Florie had not yet arrived, which raised the spirits of the 
Lilianites to fever heat. 

The Lilian then proceeded to Wilmington, where Captain 
Maffitt received the following order : 

Confederate States, 

Office of Orders and Detail, 

Navy Department, 

Richmond, June 9, 1864. 
Sir : Proceed to Plymouth, North Carolina, and report to Capt. 
R. F. Pinckney, commanding, etc., for the command of the C. 

336 The Life and Services of 

steamer Albemarle. You will report by the 22d inst. or as soon 
thereafter as practicable. 

I am respectfully, your ob't serv't, 

S. R. Mallory, 
Secretary of the Navy. 
Commander John N. Maffitt, 
C. S. Navy. 
Reported June 25. 

R. F. Pinckney, Comdr. 

The following letter is of interest, coming as it does from the 
pen of our beloved Chieftain, Gen. Robert E. Lee, C. S. A. : 

Camp, Petersburg, August 11, '64. 
My Dear Captain : I have received the sword belt you were 
so kind as to send me. It is very handsome and I appreciate it 
highly as a token of your remembrance. I recall with great 
pleasure the days of our association in Carolina — with equal 
admiration your brilliant course since in the defense of your 
country. Wishing you all happiness and prosperity. 

I remain, most truly yours, 
R. E. Lee. 
Comdr. J. N. Maffitt, C. S. N. 

Headquarters 2d Dist., Dept. N. C. and So. Va., 

Goldsboro, July 6, 1864. 
Capt. John N. Maffitt, C. S. N., 

Comdg. Gunboat Albemarle, 
Plymouth, N. C. 

Captain : A rumor having reached me that it was your intention 
at an early day to assume the offensive and attack the enemy's gun- 
boats in Albemarle Sound, I take the liberty of writing to urge 
upon you the great necessity for extreme caution in the matter and 
to beg that you will not make the proposed movement unless you 
are certain of success. 

I beg leave to remind you of the importance to the Confederacy 
of the country opened to us by the taking of Plymouth, to suggest 
that its recapture now engages the serious attention of the U. S. 
Gov't and that the loss of the gunboat which you command would 
be irreparable and productive of ruin to the interests of the Gov- 

John Newland Maffitt 337 

ernment, particularly in this State and district, and indeed would 
be a heavy blow to the whole country. It has been reported to me 
that within the last few days two of the largest gunboats at New- 
berne have been sent to Roanoke Island. 

I have no doubt that in event of an attack by you the most des- 
perate efforts will be made to destroy your boat and thus open the 
approach to Plymouth and Washington. 

I hope, Captain, you will appreciate the importance of the matter 
which has induced these suggestions and pardon the liberty taken. 
With high consideration I have the honor to be 

Very respectfully, your obd't serv't, 

L. S. Baker, 
Brig.-Gen. Comdg. Dist. 

From the letter, a copy of which is given below, the matter 
seems to have been referred to both the Secretary of the Navy 
by Captain Maffitt, and to the Secretary of War by Captain 
Pinckney : 

Confederate States of America, 
Navy Department, 

Richmond, August 4, 1864. 
Comdr. J. N. Maffitt, P. N. C. S., 
Comdg. Steamer Albemarle, 

Plymouth, N. C. 
Sir: In reply to your letter of the 9th ult, enclosing copy of a 
letter from General Baker relative to the proposed attack by the 
Albemarle upon the enemy's gunboats, I enclose for your informa- 
tion copy of my letter to Captain Pinckney relative to a similar 
letter from General Baker referred to me by the Secretary of War. 
I am respectfully, your ob't serv't, 

S. R. Mallory, 
Secretary of the Navy. 

Letter of General Baker : 

HVrs. Second Dist., Dept. of N. C. and S. Va., 

Goldsboro, N. C, July 8, 1864. 
Captain : I desire to call the attention of the general command- 
ing to the fact that Capt. J. N. Maffitt, C. S. Navy, commanding 
gunboat Albemarle, has verbal instructions to attack the enemy's 
fleet in Albemarle Sound. In the opinion of Commodore Pinck- 

338 The Life and Services of 

ney and Captain Cooke, both thoroughly acquainted with the 
capacity, etc., of the gunboat Albemarle, there is great danger of 
her capture if she goes out into the sound for this purpose. I have 
received to-day an earnest protest from Colonel Wortham, com- 
manding at Plymouth, against this step, which I have taken the 
liberty of forwarding direct to the Secretary of War, with my 
approval thereof, and a request that he will obtain an immediate 
revocation of the order of Captain Maffitt. This was done in order 
to avoid the necessary delay which would have occurred in send- 
ing it through your headquarters, and I hope this course will meet 
the approbation of the general commanding, and that he will deem 
it necessary to take immediate steps in the premises to procure a 
revocation of the order to Captain Maffitt, as the loss of the Albe- 
marle would probably necessitate the evacuation of the country 
recently recaptured by our forces and now so important to the Con- 
federacy. I am, Captain, very respectfully, 

Your obedient servant, 

L. S. Baker, 
Brigadier-General, Commanding District. 
Captain J. M. Otey, 

A. A. G., Dept. of N. C. and S. Va., Petersburg, Va. 

(First endorsement.) 
H'do/rs, Dept. of N. C. and S. Va., 

July 15, 1864. 
Respectfully forwarded. 

G. T. Beauregard, 


(Second endorsement.) 
Adjutant and Inspector-General's Office, 

July 19, 1864. 
Respectfully submitted to the Secretary of War. 

H. L. Clay, 
Assistant Adjutant-General. 

(Third endorsement.) 

July 23, 1864. 
Respectfully submitted to the honorable Secretary of the Navy, 
earnestly requesting his consideration of the news presented. 

J. A. S., 

John Newland Maffitt 339 

(Fourth endorsement.) 

July 30, 1864. _ 
Respectfully returned to honorable Secretary of War. It is 
evident from these papers that the military authorities immediately 
in charge at Plymouth regard our tenure of Plymouth, Washing- 
ton, and the rich valley of the Roanoke as dependent upon the 
ironclad Albemarle; and hence their protest against the alleged 
verbal orders given her by the Navy Department to attack the 
enemy. The importance of this vessel in holding the country she 
greatly aided to recover is apparent, even if the water fronts of 
Plymouth were strengthened, but she was not designed to act as 
a floating battery merely, and while her loss must not be lightly 
hazarded, the question of when to attack the enemy must be left 
to the judgment of the naval officer in command, deciding in view 
of the relations she bears to the defenses of North Carolina. 

S. R. M(allory), 
Secretary of the Navy. 

There seems to have been quite a ruffling of feathers in 
regard to this matter. In view of the after fate of the 
Albemarle — on the 28th of October, 1864, at 3 a. m., while 
under the command of Lieutenant Warley, who had succeeded 
Captain Maffitt, she was destroyed by Lieutenant dishing — we 
are left to speculate as to possible results had the orders of the 
Navy Department been carried out. Mr. Mallory in his 
indorsement of the papers forwarded to him on this subject, 
expresses his opinion that "the question of when to attack the 
enemy must be left to the judgment of the naval officer in 
command, deciding in view of the relations she bears to the 
defenses of North Carolina." 

Soon after this. Captain Maffitt, greatly to his relief, as the 
duty was more that of a river guard, received the following 
orders : 

C. S. Navy Department, 
Office of Orders and Detail, 
Richmond, Va., September 9, 1864. 
Sir: You are hereby detached from the command of the C. S. 
(ram) Albemarle, and will proceed to Wilmington, N. C, and 

340 The Life and Services of 

report to Flag Officer William F. Lynch, commanding, for the 
command of a blockade-runner. 

By command of the Secretary of the Navy. 

S. S. Lee, 
Captain in Charge. 
Commander J. N. Maffitt, Provisional Navy C. S., 

Commanding C. S. (Ram) Albemarle, Plymouth, N. C. 

Reported, September 20, 1864. 


Commanding Officer. 

Navy Department, C. S., 
Richmond, Va., September 14, 1864. 
Commander John N. Maffitt, P. N. C. S., 
Wilmington, N. C. 

Sir : The Ozd is the first of several steamers built for and on 
account of the Confederate Government and which are to be run 
under the direction of the Secretary of the Navy. Naval officers 
are to be placed in command and you are selected to take charge 
of the Ozvl. All the information I have as to this vessel is derived 
from the enclosed copy of a letter from Colonel Bayne, which 
you will perceive says nothing as to the condition upon which 
the officers and crew are engaged, nor does it inform me as to 
the vessel's papers. You will at once ascertain all necessary infor- 
mation upon these points. 

It is possible that, after the manner of seamen, there may be 
murmuring or discontent by those on board at the change of 
command ; and as it is difficult to find crews and engineers at 
pleasure, your judgment and tact are relied upon to meet such a 

The Owl should go to Bermuda rather than to Halifax, for the 
reason that she could bring but little cargo from the latter point in 
addition to the coal required for her inward and outward trips, 
and for the additional reason that the risks of capture and loss are 
far greater on the Halifax route. From Halifax the U. S. Agents 
may telegraph to any naval station and city of the enemy the 
exact time of the departure of our ships, and thus greatly increase 
the chances of anticipating them. 

This Department having to defray the expenses of the vessels 
sailing under its direction, sterling bills will be placed in your 
hands to enable you to meet those of your command; and you 

John Newland Maffitt 341 

are required to see that economy and efficiency in all its depart- 
ments are practiced. So soon as a naval assistant paymaster can 
be spared, one will be sent to you. 

As the Owl will soon be followed by several other vessels under 
this Department, it is important that uniformity as far as prac- 
ticable be observed in their management. For this purpose the 
expenses of every round trip will be stated under their appro- 
priate heads of expenditure. 

I am respectfully, your ob't serv't, 

S. R. Mallory, 
Secretary of the Navy. 

P. S.— All the civil duties pertaining to the running of these ves- 
sels and their expenditures are devolved upon Mr. W. H. Peters, 
who is the special agent of the Department at Wilmington, and 
such as are of a military character are devolved upon Lieut. R. F. 
Chapman, C. S. N., with both of whom you will please confer. 

Mr. Peters will apprise you of such reports as are required upon 
the return of every vessel and which you will have made accord- 

S. R. Mallory, 
Sect'y Navy. 

Confederate States of America, 
Navy Department, 
Richmond, September 19, 1864. 
Commander John N. Maffitt, C. S. Navy, 
Wilmington, N. C. 
Sir : The following telegram was this day sent to you : 
"It is of the first importance that our steamers should not fall 
into the enemy's hands. Apart from the specific loss sustained by 
the country in the capture of blockade-runners these vessels, lightly 
armed, now constitute the fleetest and most efficient part of his 
blockading force off Wilmington. 

"As commanding officer of the Owl you will please devise and 
adopt thorough and efficient means for saving all hands and 
destroying the vessel and cargo, whenever these measures may 
become necessary to prevent capture. Upon your firmness and 
ability the Department relies for the execution of this important 
trust. In view of this order no passengers will, as a general rule, 
be carried. Such exceptions to this rule as the public interests 
may render necessary, embracing those who may be sent to the 
Government, will receive special permits from this Department." 

342 The Life and Services of 

Assistant Paymaster Tredwell has been instructed to pay over to 
you, taking your receipt for the same, four thousand pounds in 
sterling- bills. You will please keep an accurate account with 
vouchers in duplicate of all your expenditures, one set of which 
you will submit to Mr. W. H. Peters, our special agent at Wilming- 
ton, at each round trip you may make. 

I am respectfully, your ob't serv't, 

S. R. Mallory, 
Secretary of the Navy. 

Confederate States of America, 
Navy Department, 
Richmond, September 25, 1864. 
Commander John N. Maffitt, C. S. Navy, 
Wilmington, N. C. 
Sir: The Department has received no report of your cruise 
while in command of the Florida, and you are requested at your 
earliest convenience to make a full report of her operations. 
Duplicates of any reports whilst cruising will probably be the best 
means of affording the information desired if you have retained 

It is important also that the accounts of the late Ass't Paymas- 
ter Lynch should be adjusted, and if you have them in your pos- 
session, it would be well to send them to the 1st Auditor of the 
Treasury, and also the accounts of the Florida subsequent to his 
death. I am, respectfully, your ob't serv't, 

S. R. Mallory. 

Copy of answer to the above : 

Wilmington, N. C, December 12, 1864. 
Hon. S. R. Mallory, 

Secretary of Navy, Richmond. 

Sir : I herewith enclose a statement of the captures made by the 
C. S. S. Florida while under my command. 

The value of each cargo is taken from memory as I left all my 
papers in Bermuda, fearing to trust them through the blockade. 
From time to time I wrote the Department and enclosed a state- 
ment of the value of each vessel destroyed. 

On my arrival from Bermuda I will furnish copies of my com- 
munications and forward the different papers of the captured 

John Newland Maffitt 343 

You will observe that this statement does not embrace the names 
of vessels captured by Lieutenant Reed, who was sent out from the 
Florida in the prize brig Clarence, and from him a report will 
have to be obtained in order to complete the list. 

I am, respectfully, your ob't servant, 

J. N. Maffitt, 
Commander, C. S. N. 

Partial list of vessels captured by the C. S. steamer Florida, John 
N. Maffitt, commanding, with an approximate value of the 
same given from memory : 

Brig Estelle, destroyed, cargo and vessel valued at $130,000 

Bark Windward, 40,000 

Brig Corris Ann, 44,000 

Ship Jacob Bell, 2,140,000 

Ship Star of Peace, 900,000 

Schooner Aldebaran, " 25,000 

Bark Lapwing, " " " 80,000 

Bark M. J. Colcord, " " 40,000 

Ship Commonwealth, " 400,000 

Ship Oneida, 950,000 

Bark Henrietta, 40,000 

Brig Clarence, " " " 35>ooo 

Ship Crown Point, 500,000 

Ship Southern Cross, " " " 90,000 

Ship Red Gauntlet, 130,000 

Ship Benjamin Hoxie, " 130,000 

Schooner V. H. Hill, " 10,000 

Ship Sunrise, " " 60,000 

Brig W. B. Nash, " " " 75,000 

Schooner Rienzie, " . . 30,000 

Ship Hope, " " " 40,000 

Ship Anglo-Saxon, " " 85,000 

Many other captures were made by the Florida other than 
the above, among them the Francis B. Cutting, bonded for 
$40,000, the Hull and Southern Rights. 

In giving the above answer I have somewhat anticipated. 
The delayed answer was no doubt due to Captain Maffitt's 
absence from Wilmington, as he made a visit to his family near 
Fayetteville at this time. In a letter to his daughter Florie, 
dated November 8, 1864, he writes : 

344 The Life and Services of 

I have been waiting the Oivl's arrival to write — she is not yet in, 
and I fear will not come until the next moon, as she recently went 
to Nassau to get a pilot. This delay is exceedingly annoying, but 
as growling does no good, I have patiently, or rather impatiently, 
to submit. * * * I hope you are all well and do not find your- 
selves as dull as when I first left. On the last of August, Eugene 
[his son] was in Glasgow, Scotland, and he then told Mr. Lafone 
that he intended to return home in October — so we may expect to 
see him very soon. 

Eugene Anderson Maffitt was the eldest son of Captain 
Maffitt, and had served on board the Alabama with Semmes 
during her entire cruise and was on board during her fight with 
the Kearsarge. In The Century Magazine for April, 1886, 
there is an article by Capt. John Mcintosh Kell, executive 
officer of the Alabama, "Cruise and Combats of the Alabama," 
in which he makes the following mention of Eugene Anderson 
Maffitt. After describing the fight and its disastrous result, 
he says : 

Partly undressing, we plunged into the sea, and made an offing 
from the sinking ship, Captain Semmes with a life-preserver and 
I on a grating. The young Midshipman Maffitt swam to me and 
offered his life-preserver. My grating was not proving a very 
buoyant float, and the white caps breaking over my head were dis- 
tressingly uncomfortable, to say the least. Maffitt said, "Mr. Kell, 
take my life-preserver, sir; you are almost exhausted." The gal- 
lant boy did not consider his own condition, but his pallid face told 
me that his heroism was superior to his bodily suffering, and I 
refused it. 

They were both picked up soon afterward by the Deerhound 
and taken to England. Eugene Maffitt was afterward first 
officer on the Susan Beirne. This blockade-runner in making 
an effort to reach the Confederacy from Bermuda, with her 
return cargo, was overtaken by a severe storm in which she 
suffered such damages that it was with great difficulty and 
after much suffering by her officers and crew that she returned 
to St. Georges, and, not being able to obtain permission from 

John Newland Maffitt 345 

the British Government to use the naval drydock, it was found 
necessary to proceed to Nassau in a crippled condition to 
complete repairs on the public dock there. 

From this digression I now return to Captain Maffitt, still 
awaiting in Wilmington, N. C, the advent of the Owl. 

Confederate States of America, 
Navy Department, 
Richmond, November 25, 1864. 
Commander John N. Maffitt, C. S. N., 
Wilmington, N. C. 

Sir : In addition to the orders heretofore given on the 14th and 
19th of September last, with reference to the command of the Ozvl, 
the following orders will also be observed : Before leaving port 
you will station your crew for the different boats of the steamer, 
having placed in them water and provisions and also nautical 
instruments. When capture in your judgment becomes inevitable, 
fire the vessel in several places and embark in the boats, making 
for the nearest land. 

The Department leaves to your discretion the time when, and 
the circumstances that must govern you in the destruction of the 
Owl, in order to prevent her falling into the hands of the enemy. 

You will obtain the best engineer, officers and pilot and make 
the vessel as thoroughly efficient as practicable for the service in 
which she is engaged. 

No passengers will be received on board without the authority 
of this Department. 

You will request the Government agents in Nassau and Ber- 
muda to require of each steamer that leaves each place with a small 
cargo, to bring in for this Department a certain amount of coal, to 
be delivered to Mr. Peters or his agent on arrival. 

On your arrival in a Confederate port you will furnish Mr. Wm. 
H. Peters, special agent at Wilmington, with duplicate vouchers of 
your expenses of each trip, with the view of equalizing and govern- 
ing the expenses of all vessels which will come under the charge of 
this Department ; and you will be careful to avoid all unnecessary 
expenditures, and will regulate them with a view to rigid economy 
consistent with efficiency. 

You are authorized to employ the services of a clerk, whose 
duties will be to receive and deliver the cargoes, and also attend to 
the accounts of the steamer, all of which will be approved by you 
before being submitted to Mr. Peters. 

346 The Life and Services of 

You will confer freely and fully with Mr. Peters. 

I am respectfully, your ob't serv't, 

S. R. Mallory, 
Secretary of the Navy. 

Confederate States of America, 
Navy Department, 
Richmond, December 5, 1864. 
Commander John N. Maffitt, C. S. N., 
Comdg. Steamer Owl, 

Wilmington, N. C. 
Sir : In anticipation of your being able to get out this moon, and 
fearing a letter would not reach you in time, I telegraphed to-day 
to bring as part of your return cargo a portion of the clothing 
shipped to Bermuda to Major Walker, C. S. Agent, by Paymaster 
. Clothing is much required, and you will please, if practica- 
ble, divide the lot you bring so as to contain full suits of clothes, 
blankets and shoes. If these articles have not arrived, bring in the 
lot of clothing shipped to Major Walker for Paymaster Bell, by 
Mess. Girard Gauthirin & Co., of Paris, or a portion of it. It is 
desirable also that all articles for submarine purposes should reach 
us as early as practicable, and you will also take on board a portion 
of these articles. 

Seventeen of the Florida's men have been landed at St. Georges 
and are now in charge of Major Walker. You will take them on 
board and bring them to the C. S. and also Midshipman Warren 
and Engineer Collier. 

Upon your return you will please forward a list of the names of 
the Florida's men, their terms of enlistment, etc. Some of them 
may probably be known to you. 

I am respectfully, your ob't serv't, 

S. R. Mallory, 
Secretary of the Navy. 


Blockade-running in the Oivl — Arrival at St. Georges — Abortive attack on 
Fort Fisher by Butler — The Owl with return cargo enters the Cape 
Fear — Interviewed by Captain Martin and informed that Fisher and 
the Cape Fear were in the hands of the enemy — The Owl enters the 
harbor of Charleston — Attacked by Federal blockaders and ordered to 
"heave to" — Mail bags, log-book of Florida, and valuable papers sent 
to the bottom by young officer — The Oivl escapes and the enemy attack 
each other — The Owl enters port of Galveston, Texas — Gets aground 
and is fired upon by blockaders — With help of C. S. Diana, Captain 
McGarvey, escapes — Appears in damaged condition at Nassau, where 
Susan Beirne is repairing — Interesting letter from Capt. J. Pembroke 
Jones — Joins Maffitt in Havana and sails with him in Ozvl to Halifax — 
Last orders of Navy Department — Letter to his family by Captain 
Maffitt — Letter of Hon. J. C. Breckinridge and one from Gen. Wm. C. 
Preston of Kentucky — Captain Maffitt obtains command of British 
merchantman Widgeon — Letters to his family. 

In The United Service Magazine for February, 1892, 
Captain Maffitt in an article on ''Blockade-Running," writes: 

On the 2 1 st of December, 1864, I received on board the naval 
steamer Owl seven hundred and eighty bales of cotton, and with 
three other blockade-runners ran clear of the Federal sentinels 
without the loss of a rope-yarn. * * * 

Arriving in St. Georges, I found a number of steamers loaded 
and impatiently awaiting news from the Federal expedition under 
General Butler against Fort Fisher before resolving to enter Dixie. 
By the Halifax steamer the desired intelligence was obtained. The 
Northern press admitted that the assault had proved abortive. The 
New York Herald stated that the cargo of powder was gallantly 
anchored near Fort Fisher and touched off ; produced an explosion 
so terrible as to absolutely arouse several fatigued and somnolent 
Dixie soldiers from their much-needed repose. Upon the receipt of 
this, to us, cheering news, six of us in company joyfully departed, 
anticipating a speedy reunion with Dixie. 

We parted at sea and met not again. In two days I communi- 
cated with Lockwood's Folly where they reported all serene and 
Fisher intact. Delighted with this information, I steamed for the 
Cape Fear. The moon was not expected to rise until eleven 

348 The Life and Services of 

o'clock, and at eight o'clock we should meet high water on the 
bar — the time for crossing. Approaching the channel, I was sur- 
prised to find but one sentinel guarding the port. No difficulty 
was experienced in eluding him. A conflagration at Bald Head 
and no response to my signals excited some apprehensions, but as 
Fort Caswell looked natural and quiet, I decided to venture in and 
passing on, came to anchor off the fort wharf. We were immedi- 
ately interviewed by Capt. E. S. Martin, chief of ordnance, and 
another officer from the fort, who confirmed my most gloomy 
apprehensions. A second attack, under General Terry and 
Admiral Porter, had been successful, and Fisher and the Cape 
Fear were in the possession of the enemy. 

To instantly depart became an imperious necessity. Gunboats 
were approaching ; Fort Caswell was doomed ; the train already 
laid, only awaited the match. In poignant distress I turned from 
the heart-rending scene, my sorrowing mind foreshadowing the 
fate of Dixie. The solitary blockader awoke from his lethargy 
and pursued me furiously. His artillery palled under the rever- 
beration of an explosion that rumbled portentously from wave to 
wave in melancholy echoes that enunciated far at sea the fate of 

My cargo being important, and the capture of Fort Fisher and 
the Cape Fear cutting me off from Wilmington, I deemed it my 
duty to make an effort to enter the harbor of Charleston, in order 
to deliver the much needed supplies. 

I had been informed that the blockade of that port was more 
stringently guarded than ever before since the inauguration of 
hostilities. The Owl's speed was now accommodated to the neces- 
sary time for arriving off the bar, which was 10 p. m. Through- 
out the day vigilant steamers were seen along the shore, inspect- 
ing inlets and coves regardless of their want of capacity for 
blockade purposes. This spirit of inspection and watchfulness 
was most assiduous, as if an order had been issued to overhaul 
even the coast gallinippers, to see that aid and comfort in the 
shape of muskets and pistols were not smuggled into the needy 
Confederacy. Occasionally one of these constables of the sea 
would fire up and make a dash after the Owl; a little more coal 
and stirring up of the fire-draft was sufficient to start the blockade- 
runner off with such admirable speed as to convince the Federal 
that he was after the fleetest steamer that ever eluded the guardians 
of the channel-ways. 

Seasonably making the passage, nine o'clock p. m. found us 
not far from the mouth of Maffitt's channel. Anticipating a trying 

John Newland Maffitt 349 

night and the bare possibility of capture, two bags were slung and 
suspended over the quarter by a stout line. In these bags were 
placed the Government mail not yet delivered, all private corre- 
spondence, and my war journal, including the cruise of the Florida, 
besides many other papers. An intelligent quartermaster was 
ordered to stand by the bags with a hatchet, and the moment 
capture became inevitable to cut adrift and let them sink. 

When on the western end of Rattlesnake shoal, we encountered 
streaks of mist and fog that enveloped stars and everything for a 
few moments, when it would become quite clear again. Running 
cautiously in one of those obscurations, a sudden lift in the haze 
disclosed that we were about to run into an anchored blockader. 
We had bare room with a hard-a-port helm to avoid him some 
fifteen or twenty feet, when their officer on deck called out, "Heave 
to, or I'll sink you !" The order was unnoticed, and we received 
his entire broadside, that cut away turtle-back, perforated fore- 
castle, and tore up bulwarks in front of our engine-room, wound- 
ing twelve men, some severely, some slightly. The quartermaster 
stationed by the mail-bags was so convinced that we were cap- 
tured that he instantly used his hatchet, and sent them well moored 
to the bottom; hence my meagre account of the cruise of the 
Florida. Rockets were fired as we passed swiftly out of his range 
of sight, and drummond-lights lit up the animated surroundings 
of a swarm of blockaders, who commenced an indiscriminate dis- 
charge of artillery. We could not understand the reason of this 
bombardment, and as we picked our way out of the melee, con- 
cluded that several blockade-runners must have been discovered 
feeling their way into Charleston. 

After the war, in conversing with the officer commanding on 
that occasion, he said that a number of the steamers of the blockade 
were commanded by inexperienced volunteer omcers. who were 
sometimes overzealous and excitable, and hearing the gunboat 
firing into me, and seeing her rockets and signal lights, they 
thought that innumerable blockade-runners were forcing a passage 
into the harbor, hence the indiscriminate discharge of_ artillery, 
which was attended with unfortunate result to them. This was my 
last belligerent association with blockade-running. 

Captain Maffitt then determined to make an effort to enter 
the port of Galveston, Texas. The date of this attempt is 
fixed by the following receipt found among his papers : 

350 The Life and Services of 


Received, Galveston, May 5, 1865, of Mr. C. B. Cook, two hun- 
dred and twenty-two 15-100 (in specie) dollars for duties on 
clearance of goods imported into the port on steamer Ozvl. 

A. P. Lupkin, 
Surveyor of Port Galveston. 

From the Galveston Daily Nezvs of May 6, 1901 : 

An Event of '65. 

One fine morning in the spring of 1865 Capt. John Newland 
Maffitt, who was formerly commander of the famous Confederate 
steamer Florida, but then commander of the fast steamer Ozvl, 
ran successfully through the blockading fleet of sixteen vessels, 
but grounded on Bird Island shoals, just at the entrance to Gal- 
veston Harbor, at a most exposed point within range of the 
enemy's guns, who were raining shot and shell around the stranded 
vessel. In the harbor, under command of Capt. James H. McGar- 
vey, was the Confederate fleet, composed of the gunboat's Diana 
and Bayou City and the transports Lucy Gwin, Colonel Steel, 
Island City, and Lone Star. With a volunteer crew, Captain 
McGarvey went with the Diana to the rescue, arriving quickly on 
the scene, to find the gallant captain and his crew working faith- 
fully to float the vessel, which with the assistance of the crew of 
the Diana was soon done, and in the face of great danger Captain 
Maffitt remained at his exposed post on the bridge of the steamer, 
calmly directing his men and displaying the greatest calmness 
and bravery. 

Captain Mafntt's sister, Mrs. Henrietta Lamar of Galveston, 
Texas, wrote me some years ago in regard to this visit of her 
brother, that "all the city had gone up to the house tops, in 
their anxiety to know the fate of the Florida, and, if possible. 
to signal him, and great was their rejoicing at his successful 

We next hear of Captain Mafntt's whereabouts from Mr. 
James Sprunt's articles in "Regimental Histories," Vol. V, 
"Blockade-Running." He writes, page 381 : 

While we (the Susan Beirne) were repairing at Nassau, the 
Confederate steamer Ozvl, commanded by Captain Maffitt, 

John Newland Maffitt 351 

appeared in the offing-, and later ran close past us in the harbor, a 
shot hole through her funnel, several more in her hull, standing 
rigging in rags, and other indications of a hot time, confirming our 
apprehensions that she had failed to reach the Confederacy. A 
few moments later the gallant Maffitt reported that Fort Fisher 
had fallen and that Charleston Harbor was also in possession of 
the Federals. The gateway to the South was at last closed and 
the occupation of blockade-runners was at an end. 

Captain Maffitt had evidently, however, been able to deliver 
his cargo in Galveston, as the receipt given above shows. 

In a letter from Capt. J. Pembroke Jones, the shipmate and 
life-long friend of Captain Maffitt, dated Pasadena, California, 
November 20, 1905, I take these data : 

Do you know that the last order I received in the Confederacy 
was early in 1865, to make the best of my way out of the Confeder- 
ate States, taking with me a James River pilot and a York River 
pilot and a large sum of money in specie cheques, with orders to 
report to Maffitt, if I could find him, and requiring him and me to 
purchase steamers and load them with the supplies most needed by 
General Lee's army, and bring them in as speedily as possible — 
running the blockade coiite que coute, one to take James River and 
the other York River. 

As all our ports were closed I started, with the two pilots, for 
Texas ; but when I reached the Mississippi River I heard of the 
surrender of General Lee, and of the death of Mr. Lincoln. I then 
ordered the two pilots to return to their homes. 

I crossed the Mississippi, went up Red River to Shreveport, went 
to Galveston, where I reported to General Magruder, and finding 
the war would not be continued in Texas, I went to Brownsville 
and crossed the Rio Grande to Matamoras ; from there I took 
steamer to Havana, where I found Maffitt, and surprised him with 
the account of my mission. Maffitt and myself went together 
from Havana to Halifax in the Owl, where I parted with him. 

He adds : 

He [Maffitt] was the warmest-hearted and most generous friend 
and the most genial companion I ever knew. He was always the 
life of his mess, full of fun and tender sympathy for all around 
him. He was a born sailor and a splendid officer, and I have 
never known one more beloved. 

352 The Life and Services of 

I trust I may be pardoned for inserting the above tribute, 
all the more welcome after the many years that have passed 
since the earthly career of the friend, of whom Captain Jones 
speaks so warmly, was closed. Captain Jones was probably 
the bearer of the following letter which belongs to the history 
of that period. It is the last letter from Mr. Mallory, among 
the collection saved by Captain Maffitt, which has fallen into 
my hands. The vicissitudes of war and the uncertainties of 
his life during many years subsequent to this period, have no 
doubt occasioned the loss of many valuable historical docu- 
ments, besides the lamented one of the Florida's log-book. 

Confederate States of America, 
Navy Department, 
Richmond, February 24, 1865. 
Commander John N. Maffitt, Pr. C. S., 
Nassau, N. P. 

Sir: The loss of Savannah and Charleston, renders instruc- 
tions as to the employment of the Chameleon and Owl expedient. 

The importation of supplies being now limited to the shallow 
inlets and rivers of our coasts requires vessels whose draft of 
water does not exceed six feet. You w.ill at once take into con- 
sideration the chances of running the two vessels referred to into 
Georgetown and out again to the islands, and will, if you deem 
it practicable, do so. Should you on the contrary deem it imprac- 
ticable, and should you find it equally impracticable to run them 
into, and out of, any other port this side of the Mississippi, you 
will turn the Owl over to Mr. J. B. Lafitte, at Nassau, the agent 
of Frazier, Trenholm & Co., as their property, and request him 
to abide their instructions ; and you will sell the Chameleon if you 
can do so. The cost of this vessel in England (originally the 
Atlanta) was about £17,000. We gave £25,000 for her. There 
must be a large number of similar vessels at Nassau and Bermuda 
for sale, and the prospect of selling her is not deemed favorable ; 
and hence the price is placed at £15,000. If you sell her, place 
the proceeds in the hands of Frazier, Trenholm & Co., Liverpool, 
to the credit of Commander J. D. Bullock. Should you be unable 
thus to dispose of the Chameleon, you will communicate the fact 
at once to Commander Bullock, reduce the expenses to the lowest 
practicable figure, and await his orders. You will inform him of 

John Newland Maffitt 353 

your inability to sell the vessel, and of the Department's desire 
to turn her over to him for sale or other disposition, and that you 
will abide his instructions. 

I am informed that there are some well built and fast steamers 
drawing- under six feet when fully laden, at the islands, which 
may be purchased. In view of the urgent importance of getting 
in our supplies, and particularly small arms, you are authorized 
to purchase such a vessel out of the proceeds of the Chameleon, 
if you can make the arrangements, and run her into St. Marks, 
or any other port accessible to us in Florida, or anywhere this 
side of the Mississippi, with our naval supplies of clothing and 
shoes, and small arms for the army. If such a vessel cannot be 
purchased, you will ascertain from Commander Bullock whether 
he cannot send such a vessel in lieu of the Chameleon. If pos- 
sible the draft ought not to exceed five and a half feet. With 
this draft you can enter Apalachicola Bay and pass the "Bulk 
Head," a mound built near the city, and go up the river to Colum- 
bus, Georgia. If any better place for getting in these supplies 
successfully seems preferable, you are requested to adopt it. 

Upon Mr. McRae's list of vessels under contract abroad for 
us, are found the Lark and the Wren, built to draw five feet only. 
Should either of the vessels, or any other vessels of like draft 
be accessible to us at the islands, you will make such efforts to 
bring them in with small arms and our supplies as you may find 
practicable. These vessels have not been turned over to this 
Department, but they have been built for the service of the Con- 
federacy, and vou will, as a naval officer, render all the service 
in your power in getting them in. You are familiar with the Gulf 
coast of Florida, and you will recognize, by a glance at the charts, 
several places between Apalachicola and Tampa Bay at which 
they might enter. 

We are without advices from you or other agents abroad since 
you last left the country ; but we have reason to believe that two 
small twin screw steamers, drawing not over seven and a half 
feet, the Ajax and Hercules, are at the islands for us. As senior 
officer there, and with all confidence in your judgment and ability, 
the Department must rely upon you to do the best you can for the 
interests of the country with these vessels as with its interests 
generally, always keeping in view the importance of getting 
our supplies, particularly of small arms, and our Navy clothing, 
shoes, etc. 

As you may entertain and consider the expediency of runnin fa- 
vour vessel to Galveston, it is proper to say that this is not deemcl 

354 The Life and Services of 

necessary, such arrangements, as I am informed by the Secretary 
of the Treasury, being already made for the trans-Mississippi 
department as will secure such foreign supplies as may be required 

Throughout your actions under these orders, you are requested 
to confer and consult with Lieutenant Commanding Wilkinson. 
I am, respectfully, your ob't serv't, 

S. R. Mallory, 
Secretary of the Navy. 

Captain Maffitt writes : 

The last order issued by the Navy Department, when all hope 
for the cause had departed, was for me to deliver the Owl to 
Frazier, Trenholm & Co., in Liverpool, which I accordingly did. 

Among the few letters from Captain Maffitt while abroad, 
which have reached my hands, I copy the information given in 
those below, as they tell of the life in this trying period : 

131 Duke St., 
Liverpool, September 12, 1865. 

My Dear Cos: Many thanks for your kind letter. I cannot 
tell you how angered I was to hear of the infamous conduct of 
Sherman's army as they passed through Fayetteville — but it was 
in many places even worse than what you experienced. 

Well, the war is over, and I am truly glad of it — though deeply 
depressed by the unexpected total failure. I hoped for at least 
success enough to give us the power of claiming just and liberal 
terms. As it is, we are entirely at the mercy of despotism of the 
meanest qualifications and sentiments the most base. 

God help the South — for the people require His grace and 
divine assistance in this their time of sorrow and humiliation. 

My stomach is as yet too delicate to take the nauseous dose, or 
"pardon-asking pill" — I must bide awee. 

Until then I must try and make a support on this side of the 
Atlantic. To do that, I am now attending the Nautical school to 
prepare myself for an examination as a British captain. In the 
course of a month I expect to pass, and will then hope for a ves- 
sel after that. Eugene will go with me — he is a good boy and 
much esteemed over here. * * * Give my cordial regards 
to all friends — particularly thank Mr. Bow and Miss W. for their 
kindness to my children in the late trouble of invasion, etc. 

John Newland Maffitt 355 

I do not see my way clear as yet, so Eugene and I live quietly 
and economically. I go to school like a good boy and do not 
play bv the wayside. * * * 

God bless and protect you all. I have written before this to 
Florie and Mary — hope my letters have come safely to hand. Tell 
Florie not to give herself trouble about me. To Mr. Wright [the 
gentleman whom Florie afterward married], kind wishes. Florie 
can wed when she pleases. Kiss all for me. 

Yours devotedly, 

J. N. M. 

p. S.— Mr. Rhind has written urging me to beg for pardon. 

In his sketch of 'The Life and Services of Raphael Semmes," 
published in The South Atlantic Magazine in 1877, Captain 
Maffitt quoted the following sentiment in regard to the action 
of Semmes, which must also have actuated him : 

"What I did, I did in honor, 
Led by the impartial conduct of my soul; 
And never shall you see that I will beg 
A ragged and forestall'd remission." 

The next document was written by Hon. J. C. Breckinridge, 
late Secretary of War : 

Liverpool, August 31, 1865. 
To the Marine Board of Examination : 

Capt. J. N. Maffitt, of the late Confederate States Navy, who 
is about to appear before your board for examination, was for 
many years in the Navy of the United States ; that in the Confed- 
erate service he commanded with success the Savannah and the 
Florida, and with like success the British steamers Florie, Lilian, 
and Ozvl. 

I can also add that I have heard many officers of rank and ex- 
perience speak of Captain Maffitt as possessing unsurpassed quali- 
ties as a seaman. Respectfully, 

J. C. Breckinridge, 
Late Secretary of War. 

This letter is stamped on the back, Queen's Hotel, Liverpool. 

There are other letters of a like nature which I presume were 

duly presented to the board by Captain Maffitt. He said, 

356 The Life and Services of 

however, that the board, while obliged by law to go through 
the form of an examination before granting him a certificate, 
disclaimed the necessity for it in his case, and were very com- 

The next letter is from Gen. William C. Preston of Kentucky : 

Liverpool, September 28, 1865. 
Gentlemen : I understand that Capt. J. N. Maffitt, late a com- 
mander in the Navy of the Confederate States of America, desires 
to appear before you for the purpose of obtaining a master's cer- 
tificate. Captain Maffitt was in the Navy of the United States, 
where he bore a high character and was intrusted with the survey 
of the Southern coasts, in the performance of which duty he 
acquired distinction. At the outbreak of the civil war he disin- 
terestedly adhered to the fortunes of the South, with which he 
was identified. By his daring and energy he destroyed so much 
of the commerce of the enemy that he is now proscribed and in 
exile, and his extraordinary success in our Navy and in forcing the 
blockade has given him a wide-spread reputation for courage and 
skill among the seamen of all nations. His present honorable 
poverty attests his probity. 

I beg leave to commend to the favorable consideration of the 
Local Marine Board of Examination Captain Maffitt as an officer 
of distinction and a seaman of great skill and well-deserved repu- 

I have the honor to subscribe myself, 

With respect, your ob't serv't, 
Wm. Preston. 
To the Honorable 

The Local Board of Examination, Liverpool. 
Adelphi Hotel, 
September 28. 

On March 7, 1865, Captain Maffitt obtained command of 
the British merchant steamer "Widgeon," trading between 
Liverpool, Rio Janeiro, Buenos Ayres, and other South Ameri- 
can ports. Only two letters written by Captain Maffitt during 
this period have reached my hands, and a letter from his 
daughter Florie, then Mrs. Wright, to her brother Eugene, 
which gives this information in regard to her father. Her 
\etter is dated Wilmington, N. C, May 24, 1866. She writes : 

John Newlanu Maffitt 357 

I am so anxious to hear of your safe arrival in England, and 
that you will be able to tell me something of our precious father. 
On the tenth we received a few lines from him written in April. 
He was at St. Vincent, one of the Cape Verde Islands, and hoped 
soon to reach Rio. He said that he was well, but had had a most 
terrible time. "At one time," he said, "I believed that I had written 
you my last letter, but God in His mercy saved us." Do, my 
darling brother, find out about the ship if papa has not returned. 
My anxiety sometimes about him and you is intense. Oh! will 
the day ever come when our noble, precious father, and vou, my 
dear brother, can in safety return to us. 

This brother, who was a brave, generous and unselfish young 
man, started from England for the United States in the fall of 
1864 or early in 1865, with young Mr. Jeff Howell, a relative 
of President Davis. They were both arrested on their arrival 
and imprisoned in Fort Warren, near Boston. Through the 
intercession of friends they were finally released. Letters from 
his sister to Eugene as late as December 28, 1865, are addressed 
"E. A. Maffitt, Prisoner of War, Fort Warren, Boston, Mass." 
The exact date of the release of these young men is not known, 
but a letter from his sister to him, dated May 24, 1866, on the 
eve of his departure for England, shows that he had been 
released before that time. 

A letter written by Captain Maffitt to his family is before 
me. It is dated Str. Widgeon, Corrientes, Parana River, 
South America, January 6, 1867. 

I have written you again and again, but have received no 
response. Mail communications between S. A. and the United 
States is of the most uncertain character, and I almost despair 
of your ever hearing from me, save through England, and I shall 
send this letter to Liverpool to be there remailed. When you 
answer address Capt. J. N. Maffitt, care of A. Benitas & Co., 
Buenos Ay res, S. A. Enclose to Mr. H. Lafone, No. 13 Tempest 
Hey St., Liverpool. Some days ago, Florie, I sent you $1,000 on 
London, which will bring much more in greenbacks. 'Tis my 
hard earnings, for I have to work with avidity, and next month 
I send $500 more. * * * I remain here because I make money 
for the support of my children, which I would not be permitted 

358 The Life and Services of 

to do in the U. S. I shall return as soon as my engagement termi- 
nates, and see what I can do for the recovery of my property. It 
would not be wise for me to give up a good position for the 
present, and I presume the ill-feeling at the North will fade in 
time. My health is good and I get on well. I see that my St. 
Paul's property has been taken and a Mrs. Williams has abused 
and lied about me to her full Yankee maliciousness. I gave my 
stateroom to her and treated her so well that she expressed much 
gratitude on leaving. Her character may be known from the fact 
that the captain of the Jacob Bell (Frisbie) and his wife had not 
spoken to her for 85 days. They said she was a d. 1. I am anxious 
to hear from you all, and oh ! so anxious to embrace you, my 

The mosquitoes are so awful I can hardly write — sting, sting. 

In my last I gave you an account of the great battle I witnessed 
at Itapeva, when the allied forces lost 9,600 men. I also told you 
that the Widgeon was chartered to the Government of Brazil and 
that I was engaged to transport corn, horses, provisions, soldiers, 
etc. Do not like the duty, but as it pays well and enables me to 
support my family, I must not complain. 

My love to your husband, and say that I wrote him ten days 
ago and sent the letter to Rio, to be mailed by the American 
packet, but much fear that all my home letters have been thus lost. 

In another letter he mentions that while conveying several 
hundred soldiers to the scene of action, smallpox broke out 
among them, and as the well refused to nurse the sick or bury 
the dead, that duty devolved upon him and a fearful time he 
had — "sickening to the last degree," he described it; and the 
soldiers were mutinous and without discipline. 


Captain Maffitt resigns the Widgeon and returns to the United States — 
Visits Brooklyn Navy Yard and is cordially received and entertained — ■ 
Goes to Wilmington, N. C. — First meeting of the author with Captain 
Maffitt — He purchases a farm and calls it the "Moorings" — His son 
Eugene's marriage — I am invited to visit his step-daughter and accom- 
pany him to the "Moorings" — Overtaken by a storm, I am enveloped 
in cloak of historic fame — The inception of "Nautilus, or Cruising 
Under Canvas" — First chapter and dedication of the bantling — Its pub- 
lication and its agents — Captain Joseph Fry and his sad fate — The Cuba 
or Hornet and its history — Captain Maffitt takes her to New York — 
Her legal status defined — Letter from the Cuban Junta — Mr. James 
Sprunt asked to act as executive and his contribution to naval history. 

I here give a copy of a paper in my possession which fixes 
the date of Captain Maffitt' s resignation of the Widgeon, a 
decision made at the earnest solicitation of his family. 

Received from Captain J. N. Maffitt the Certificate of British 
Registry from L'pool dated the 7th March, 1865, with the Official 
Number of the ship 51,439, which was under his command up to 
the 27th March. 

Buenos Ayres, 27th March, 1867. 
[seal] A. Benites & Co. 

His probation ended, he took steamer and landed in New 
York, his heart rejoicing in the hope of being soon reunited 
with his family. 

Having occasion to see one of his old naval friends on 
business, he essayed calling on him at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. 
With anxious thoughts he landed, not knowing how he might 
be received ; .but while he was passing up the boardwalk to 
headquarters, some one came behind him, and clasping his 
hands over Captain Maffitt' s eyes, exclaimed, "Ha! I have 
captured the pirate." Wheeling quickly, and doubting this 
manner of salutation, he was cordially greeted by one of his 
old friends, whose name my memory fails to recall. He was 

360 The Life and Services of 

carried in triumph to headquarters and all the officers within 
reach were summoned to welcome him, his friends even sending 
some distance to the hospital to bring Dr. Dean to his presence. 
The day was made a festal one in his behalf. He was incited 
to relate some of his war experiences, and it was late before 
they would release him. He parted from them, his heart 
warmed with affectionate appreciation of their cordial 

Not being able to effect any restitution of his confiscated 
property, which amounted to $75,000, he turned his face 
southward and joined his daughter Florie, Mrs. J. G. Wright, 
at her home in Wilmington, North Carolina. 

In the mean time, his son Eugene Maffitt, who had been 
living in Wilmington for some time, became engaged to my 
sister, Miss Kate Martin, and my first meeting with Captain 
Maffitt took place on the occasion of his first call on our family. 
Before his visit ended he requested me to sing for him, having 
heard from his daughter that I was a musician. 

Soon after this Captain Maffitt purchased a farm of 212 
acres, on the sound which washed the Wrightsville beach, near 
Wilmington. He named his home "The Moorings," and here 
he gathered once again his lares et penates, his family then 
consisting of his step-daughter, Miss Mary Read and his young 
son, Colden Rhind. His son Eugene Maffitt joined him in 
his enterprise for a while, and after Eugene's marriage to my 
sister, which took place in November, 1868, they returned from 
their honeymoon to live with his father. 

On the 26th of January, 1869, at the invitation of his step- 
daughter, I accompanied Captain Maffitt on a visit to their 
home. The day was of very uncertain character, one moment 
threatening a downpour, the next cheering us with hopes of a 
clearing, and but for the fact of Captain Maffitt's having driven 
to the city, some eight miles, especially to escort me to "The 
Moorings," I might have yielded to the anxious fears of my 
mother and postponed my visit. As it was, we decided to hope 
for the best and brave the weather, so the butler was directed to 

John Newland Maffitt 361 

place my grip in the carriage, and my companion and 
I started. Our course, after leaving the city, lay through the 
forest on a country road, for not even the turnpike, which later 
graced this lovely part of the country, was then in existence. 
When some two miles from the city, the struggle between old 
Sol and the murky water-carriers which had been sweeping up 
from the ocean, ended in a sudden opening of the flood-gates 
of heaven and outpouring of torrents of rain, bravely seconded 
by furious gusts of wind. Although well protected by the 
curtains and laprobe, the wind blew some rain into the carriage. 
Being young and of cheerful disposition I made light of the 
storm and became even jubilant, when my companion 
remarked, "The reality is even worse than your mother feared. 
We must prepare for an immersion." 

"Let it come. Do not imagine that you have a melting 
mate," I said. 

Unfolding an antique blue cloak, without which he seldom 
traveled, Captain Maffitt proceeded to wrap it about me, 
remarking, "This will shield you, as it has me, in my wander- 
ings over land and sea for many years." 

"If its history were written," I replied, "no doubt much of 
romantic interest now buried in its silent folds would be rescued 
from oblivion." 

With suddenly awakened reminiscences of the past mar- 
shaled before his mind's eye, he replied, "Your conjecture is 
true. If my old companion was endowed with intelligence and 
the power of utterance, it could unquestionably many a tale 
unfold of no ordinary interest. The Queen of Greece has been 
encircled with its protecting folds as now it shelters you. In 
Italy, Spain, France, and England, in Germany, in Palestine, 
and among the Pyramids, this dear old cloak has served me 
truly and ever proved a faithful friend." 

"Then, sir, why not yourself become its historian ?" 

"I fear the task is beyond my ability. I am unused to 
literary pursuits." 

362 The Life and Services of 

"I have known you to delight an insatiate audience for hours 
with the recital of incidents of your nautical life. Write as 
you relate. Told in your natural style they will no doubt prove 
acceptable to a pleasure-seeking public." 

"It's a novel idea; but," turning to me, "if you will be my 
amanuensis, I'll essay the task." 

"If my ability be equal to your requirements, I'll accept the 

"Thanks. What title shall we give our bantling?" 

After thinking a few moments, I suggested, "Oreto, or the 
Adventures of a Midshipman's Cloak," which he accepted, but 
which we afterward changed to "Nautilus, or Cruising Under 

On the morrow, after our noontide meal was over and I was 
seated in their cosy little sitting-room, to my utter surprise. 
Captain Maffitt entered, and laying some sheets of writing 
paper closely written upon, on the table at my side, said, "Here 
is the first chapter of our book. Read, and tell me what you 
think of its beginning. It is roughly sketched, but we can 
improve it." 

Thus was inaugurated an association which drew us into 
frequent consultation and correspondence, and which 
culminated in marriage. Captain Maffitt at every spare 
moment in the early hours of the day, or late at night, would 
jot down facts, with pencil mostly, and either bring or send 
them to me for filling in or rearranging; and occasionally I 
would visit his family for special work. It was not until after 
our marriage that the following was added : 


I affectionately inscribe 

To the congenial spirit who, enjoying 

The recital of my naval experience, incited 

This essay at authorship, 

My Wife. 

John Newland Maffitt 363 

The publishing house which undertook its publication was, 
unknown to us, on the brink of failure, and did not fulfil its 
contract, or supply the many orders which they received for 
"Nautilus," and the cost to us of its publication was very great 
because, against our wishes, it was gotten up in a most 
expensive style, and they had persuaded Captain Maffitt to have 
the book stereotyped, which cost us $1,000. After the first 
and second editions were exhausted, no more were printed, or 
have been, although we have had many demands for them, and 
numerous complimentary letters from old naval friends, who 
recognized the characters and events therein narrated. The 
book was most favorably and flatteringly spoken of by the 

Since writing the above I have been put in possession of the 
letters and papers in regard to the publication of "Nautilus," 
and find that $600 was charged for the stereotype plates and 
the balance went to meet other expenses of its publication. I 
believe that the manager of this publishing house was too 
heavily handicapped by the condition of affairs to do justice 
to the work, but that his intentions were of the best. 

Captain Maffitt had requested that some of his old naval 
friends be appointed agents for the sale of the book, and among 
these was the unfortunate Capt. Joseph Fry, who was shot 
by the Spaniards, after being captured in command of the 
Virginins. The last letter received from him was in 
acknowledgment of the receipt of a box containing copies of 
"Nautilus," which had been sent him to sell. Our next news 
of him was the knell of his tragic death. 

In the fall of 1869, a year before our marriage, there 
appeared in the port of Wilmington the steamer Hornet, or 
Cuba. She had put in there for the purpose of coaling. 

Mr. Sprunt has refreshed my memory with the following : 

Your question as to the purpose of the steamer Cuba [in enter- 
ing the port of Wilmington] is also interesting. I remember dis- 
tinctly that she arrived on a Sunday morning, and that tfie only 
coal dealers of importance at that time were the Worths, and that 

364 The Life and Services of 

a messenger from the commander of the Cuba, who was a promi- 
nent Confederate (by the way, Captain Pegram, I think, was his 
name), came to Mr. David Worth, who sat in front of me in 
church, with the urgent request that he would have some coal 
delivered for the Cuba immediately, in order that she might get 
out of port. I remember, also, the great disgust and amazement 
of the commander and officers of the Cuba by Mr. Worth's reply, 
that he did not sell coal on Sunday, nor would he deliver any to 
the Cuba on that day. 

The result of the delay enabled the United States Government 
to send the U. S. boat Frolic, which was formerly our Confederate 
blockade-runner Advance, and one or two other war ships to the 
Cape Fear bar to intercept the Cuba and prevent her escape to sea, 
which was accomplished after much protesting through the news- 
papers and at Washington by Captain Pegram, and the case went 
into the U. S. Court, the judgment being that the ship was to be 
disarmed at Wilmington, crew discharged, and the officers paroled, 
the United States not having recognized Cuba at that time as a 

A claim for the vessel was entered by the Cuban Junta, or some 
others representing that interest, and the notorious B. F. Butler 
was the counsel who succeeded in getting possession of the ship 
for them on the technicality, I think, that if there was no such 
thing as a Cuban Government there could not be any representa- 
tion of the Cuban Government because it did not exist, and as 
certain Cubans made oath that the ship belonged to them, the 
United States had no right to withhold it. I am giving you these 
points from memory and would like to have them confirmed if you 
can use them. 

From the files of the New York Times in the Astor Library 
I have copied the following in regard to the above : 

[The New York Times, October i, 1869.] 
Movements of Alleged Privateer "Hornet." 

That the Cubans have a formidable privateer afloat in the vicin- 
ity of New York is not a new thing to the readers of the Times. 
who for the past few weeks have been well advised concerning 
the whereabouts and movements of that craft. 

The first mention of this vessel the Hornet, or as she is desig- 
nated by some, the Prince Albert, was made in the history of her 
detention by the United States authorities of Philadelphia a few 

John Newland Maffitt 365 

weeks ago. At that time she was suspected of being employed 
by the leaders of the Cuban Provisional Government in this coun- 
try to take part in one of the many expeditions set on foot by them. 
She was released and notice of her sudden departure from the 
Quaker City on the night of the 20th of August, duly published a 
day or two later. Nothing was heard of her until the report of 
her seizure and examination by the British authorities in Halifax, 
which resulted favorably for her. A dispatch from Boston to 
the Times, dated September 18, revealed the startling intelligence 
that a strange iron-clad carrying eighteen steel guns and three 
hundred men had been seen at Martha's Vineyard, two miles from 
the land, taking supplies from a large schooner lying alongside. 
On Wednesday she was off the coast of Long Island. She called 
herself the Prince Albert, from Halifax to Bermuda. Her descrip- 
tion, notwithstanding this change of name, proves her to be no 
other than the Hornet. She is a propeller of 1,800 tons register, 
has two smoke-stacks, is two-masted, brig-rigged forward, and is 
pierced for eighteen guns, two of which are said to be pivots of 
very heavy caliber. 

She is evidently awaiting supplies. It is also known that her 
captain is an American who served during the Southern war, and 
that he is now in this city looking after the Spanish gunboats 
(being constructed in this country) . She is at present commanded 
by her first lieutenant, who is directed by his superior. All the 
officers and crew are experienced seamen and gunners, most of 
them having served in our Navy and a few in the Southern. Spain 
is having constructed a flotilla of gunboats at the Delamater Iron 
Works on the Hudson and at Mystic. They are just the kind of 
vessels needed by the Cubans, and what more natural than that 
this well-armed, well-equipped steamer is only waiting to seize one 
as she leaves New York, before the crew are aware that they are 
on board a man-of-war and ought to make a fight for their vessel. 
A pilot who has communicated several times with Her captain says 
the privateersman is a daring fellow, and is fully determined to 
have a certain Spanish gunboat which will leave this port in a 
few days. He expresses himself as perfectly assured of success 
in his attempt to capture this particular gunboat, inasmuch as the 
crew and commander assigned her are by no means fighting men 
nor are they sufficiently numerous to defend their charge against 
such a formidable antagonist as the Hornet. 

366 The Life and Services of 

the status of the "hornet." 

Washington, September 30. — The case of the alleged Cuban 
steamer Hornet is receiving" the attention of the Government. If 
she is now afloat on the high seas with a Cuban flag or what pur- 
ports to be one, she is nothing but a pirate and will be so regarded 
by our authorities. If she comes into one of our ports in such a 
character she will be seized, and I learn that the Treasury Depart- 
ment has already given orders to refuse her supplies. In Spanish 
eyes she is an American pirate because she originally cleared from 
an American port; but the facts in the case completely clear our 
Government from all responsibility. After her seizure at Phila- 
delphia the evidence of her suspicious character was called for, 
but the United States Marshal was wholly unable to produce any 
proof of her alleged improper character. She then took a regular 
clearance for Halifax and proceeded to that port. Here she was 
libeled at the instance of the Spanish consul and subjected to a 
thorough judicial and actual examination, which resulted in her 
release, and she then proceeded to sea under a regular British 
clearance. Of her subsequent career nothing is known, as yet, 
and she has done no act which would warrant her seizure on the 
high seas by our naval forces. Nevertheless, if she flies the so- 
called Cuban colors she will fall a prey to our cruisers by the law 
of nations, as a piratical craft. 

[New York Times, October 5, 1869.] 

Seizure of the "Hornet" in Cape Fear River. — Her Supply 
of Coal Exhausted. 

Wilmington, N. C, October 4. — The privateer Hornet, alias 
Cuba, appeared off Smithville, Saturday evening, flying Cuban 
colors. It has been definitely ascertained that she has two hundred 
men and thirty officers on board; the majority of the latter being 
ex-Confederates. She anchored inside the bar, and sent her en- 
gineer and purser to this city to secure a supply of coal, that taken 
on board off New York not being adapted to quick movements. 
Suspicions being soon aroused, the officers, after engaging a sup- 
ply of coal, returned to their vessel without making arrangements 
to get the coal on board. They left this city last night about 12 
o'clock for Smithville, thirty-five miles below, in a small rowboat. 
Collector Rumley chartered the steam tug Alpha this morning at 
4 o'clock, and having placed in the hands of a Deputy United 
States Marshal a warrant issued by a United States Commissioner, 

John Newland Maffitt 367 

placed him on board with a part of the Customs force, with orders 
to detain the privateer until further orders. Colonel Frank, com- 
manding the United States troops at Post Smithville, is expected 
to cooperate with the Deputy Marshal if necessary. 

Wilmington, N. C, October 4 [1869], evening-. — The privateer 
Hornet, or Cuba, was seized by the Deputy United States Marshal 
at Smithville at 12 m. to-day and brought up and anchored a half a 
mile below the city this evening. A number of her officers are now 
in the city, and are positive that there is no pretext under which 
she can be detained by the authorities any longer than is necessary 
to have an investigation into her armament and crew. 

The Cuba is a formidable vessel and is represented as having 
great speed. She is short of coal and provisions now and her 
machinery is considerably deranged. The following is a com- 
plete list of her officers : Commodore Edward Higgins, Com- 
mander ; Thomas L. Darwin, Lieut. Commander ; David A. Telfair, 
Navigating Officer, and Lieutenant C. W. Read, Lieutenant Dr. 
Fred J. McNulty, Surgeon ; Eugene Valiente, Paymaster ; Pren- 
tiss Ingraham, Captain of Marines and Private Secretary to the 
Commodore; Dr. E. W. Dubois, Assistant Surgeon. [I omit the 

The Legal Proceedings at Wilmington, N. C. 

October 5. — This morning the case of the Cuban privateer 
Hornet was taken before Judge Allen Rutherford, United States 
Commissioner for the District of Cape Fear. Judge Person and 
Mr. French appeared for the Government, and George Davis and 
O. P. Meares for the defendants. The parties were arraigned on 
the charge that they did accept and exercise a commission to serve 
a foreign people in war, to wit : the people of Cuba against the 
people of Spain, a country with which the United States is at 
peace ; and it did fit out and arm and procure to be fitted out and 
armed within the limits of the United States a certain ship or ves- 
sel called the Cuba, with the intent that said vessel shall be em- 
ployed in the service of the people of Cuba to cruise and commit 
hostilities against the people of Spain, a country with which the 
United States are at peace ; and did enlist and serve on board of 
said vessel with intent to cruise and commit hostilities against the 
people of Spain in violation of the statutes of the United States 
and of the Act of Congress of the 20th of April, 1818. 

The Government not pressing the matter, the parties were not 
required to give bonds for their appearance at the time specified 

368 The Life and Services of 

but were placed in the custody of United States Marshal Neff, 
who released them on parole on their personal assurance that they 
would not leave. 

Counsel for the Government made the point that the vessel had 
been fitted out in the United States as charged in the indictment, 
to cruise and commit hostilities ; and to make it a prima facie case 
they asked for a continuance to allow time to secure the presence of 
witnesses from New York and Washington. 

Counsel for the defense opposed the motion for continuance, 
contending that the United States had no right to hold them, as 
the vessel was commissioned by a regularly organized government, 
the Republic of Cuba ; that the ship put in at Smithville in distress 
and it was contrary to the law of nations to detain her. Com- 
missioner Rutherford decided it was a prima facie case and granted 
the Government until Monday the nth inst. to produce witnesses. 

[The New York Times, October 7.] 

It is claimed by the Cubans that the steamer is neither a pirate 
nor a privateer and that she is not amenable to the laws of the 
United States. She was fitted out in a Canadian port and was 
purchased for the Cuban Government on the high seas ; conse- 
quently, they argue, she has not violated any portion of the 
neutrality laws. She belongs to a government (Cuba) which has 
been regularly recognized by the Republics of Peru and Bolivia 
and which has received belligerent rights from the Republics of 
Mexico and Chili, consequently she cannot be treated as a mere 
adventurer under the national laws. It is believed under the cir- 
cumstances that the Government will immediately release her and 
allow her to proceed on her course as soon as her true and legiti- 
mate character is established. 

Washington, October 6. — The Hornet is now in possession of 
the Treasury Department, having been seized by officials of the 
Revenue Service, and will remain under the control of the Secre- 
tary until the courts shall have decided her legal status and the 
disposition to be made of her. 

[The New York Times, October 9.] 

The Privateer Hornet. 

Last Thursday evening at a late hour the Navy Department at 
Washington telegraphed to the Commandant of the Brooklyn Navy 
Yard to immediately dispatch one of the fleetest war vessels at 

John Newland Maffitt 369 

hand to Wilmington, as it had been telegraphed here that it was 
the intention of the late Lady Sterling, Hornet, and more lately 
Cuban privateer Cuba, to secretly get up steam and give the slip to 
those in whose custody she had been placed. Her destination in 
all probability would be some Mexican port. It is stated that the 
real intention of the Cuba in coming into port was not as stated, 
on account of her being- disabled and in want of coal, but in order 
that a test case might be made, Commander Higgins and her other 
officers preferring to be tried as pirates by the United States 
rather than by any European government. 

The Frolic was immediately dispatched to find and guard her. 
A vessel was also dispatched from the Philadelphia Navy Yard the 
same night. 

October 9. — The coal was removed from the steamer Cuba 
to-day. She had but ten tons on board, barely enough to steam 
eight hours, which is evidence that she came in in distress. 

From the Columbia College Law Library I obtained the 
data given below : 

Case No. 6705. 

The Hornet. 

(2 Abb. U. S. 35; 11 Int. Rev. Rec. 6.) 

District Court D, North Carolina, 1870. 

Scope of Judicial Pozvers; Questions as to the Existence of 
Foreign Government. 

1. When a question arises in judicial proceedings relative to 
the existence or validity of an organization claiming to be the 
lawful government of a foreign country, the courts of the United 
States are bound by the decision of the executive power. Such 
a question is political and not judicial in its nature. 

2. When a civil war is pending in a foreign country between 
a portion of the people who adhere to a long-established govern- 
ment, and another portion who assert a new government, the 
courts of the United States cannot recognize such new government, 
or admit it or its agents or representatives to a standing as parties 
in judicial proceedings, until the executive power has publicly 
recognized such executive power. Such a question is political, 
not judicial, in its nature. 

370 The Life and Services of 

Application to Interpose a Claim in Admiralty. — The 
steamer Hornet was seized upon a libel of information founded 
upon a charge of violating the neutrality laws. J. Morales Lemus, 
as agent of the so-called "Republic of Cuba," now applied to be 
allowed to intervene and interpose a claim and contest the suit. 
The only question now made was as to the propriety of allowing 
such agent to claim. 

Brooks, District Judge. The question submitted to the court 
is — can this court recognize as existing, any government or organ- 
ized body of people, or element known as the "Republic of Cuba," 
to the extent of allowing that as a body politic, or government, to 
come through an agent into court, and be admitted as claimant of 
the property libeled in this cause? 

The capacity of this struggling element in Cuba, styling them- 
selves the "Republic of Cuba," to take and hold property is not 
a question for consideration. But it is now simply for this court 
to declare to what extent it may properly go (if to any extent), 
in declaring how far any revolutionary element or people have 
succeeded in their efforts to separate and free themselves from 
any established and acknowledged government. 

I feel that I have been aided materially in coming to a correct 
conclusion upon this question, by the very clear and able arguments 
of the counsel who addressed the court — both for the United States 
and for the individual who styles himself the "agent of the Re- 
public of Cuba," yet I am embarrassed by the importance of this 
question, in its connection with this cause. Were I satisfied that 
my opinion would be revised by the Supreme Court and be by that 
body corrected if wrong, I would announce the conclusion to which 
I have come with less reluctance than I do. 

It was contended by Mr. Phelps, the counsel who submitted the 
argument on the part of the United States, that this court would 
exceed its power in recognizing to any extent, or for any purpose, 
the existence of any mere revolutionary body such as that styling 
itself the "Republic of Cuba" in the absence of any act, resolution, 
proclamation of the legislative or executive department of our 
Government declaring or admitting to any extent, the existence 
of such a government. That there is no authority to show that 
such power was designed to be allowed the courts, or was ever 
exercised by the courts of the United States, but on the contrary 
there is abundant and conclusive authority — both of our circuit 
and Supreme Court — to show that they have not only declined to 
claim or exercise such power, but declared it to exist with and to 
have been exercised by the political departments of the govern- 

John Newland Maffitt 371 

ment alone; that a power or government must necessarily be 
recognized to have existence before they can be admitted as 
claimants to defend or be in any way heard in the court. 

Other objections were urged by the counsel to the sufficiency of 
the evidence offered by J. Morales Lemus, to show that he was 
authorized to represent and claim for the Republic of Cuba. This 
like the question of title, the court regards as not now necessary 
to be considered. 

I listened with care and much interest to the argument of the 
learned counsel who addressed the court in behalf of the party who 
asks to be admitted as agent, for the purpose of interposing a 
claim, and to the authorities read and commented upon by him. 
I have examined the authorities cited on both sides, and considered 
these authorities and the arguments with care, and have been 
forced to the conclusion that this question is with the United 
States, and I must so declare. 

I confess to some degree of hesitancy in so declaring, because, 
partially considered, it may seem as if it recognized to some extent 
a right in the strong to deny justice to the weak. But, if anything 
should be yielded for such a consideration, it would be altogether 
unjustifiable on my part. Less defensible for me would such a 
course be for the reason that I entertain so clearly the opinion 
that courts have no right to consider any question of law submitted 
to them in a policy view. Courts should construe the law — ascertain 
and declare the law as it is, without reference to any opinion of 
the judge, as to what the law should be. Though no case parallel 
to this case has been cited, yet cases have been referred to and 
commented upon by the counsel for the Government, which in my 
opinion conclusively settles this question. 

I will first refer to the case of the United States v. Palmer, 
3 Wheat. (16 U. S.) 610. This was an indictment against the 
defendant and others under the Act of Congress, for robbery upon 
the high seas — in the Circuit Court for the" District of Massachu- 
setts. The judges were not agreed, and certified eleven questions 
for the opinion of the Supreme Court. That eminent judge, 
Chief Justice Marshall, delivered the opinion of the court. I will 
only refer to the remarks of the learned chief justice upon the 
tenth question so certified. 

The question was certified in the following language, "Whether 
any colony, district, or people, who have revolted from their native 
allegiance, and have assumed upon themselves the exercise of 
independent and sovereign power, can be deemed in any court of 
the United States an independent or sovereign nation or govern- 

372 The Life and Services of 

ment, until they have been acknowledged as such by the govern- 
ment of the United States ; and whether such acknowledgment 
can be proved in a court of the United States otherwise than by 
some act, resolution, or statute of Congress, or by some public 
proclamation or other public act of the executive authority of the 
United States, directly containing or announcing such acknowledg- 
ment, or by publicly receiving or acknowledging an ambassador or 
other public minister from such colony, district, or people, and 
whether such acknowledgment can be proved by mere inference 
from the private acts or private instructions of the executive of 
the United States, where no public acknowledgment has ever been 
made; and whether the courts of the States are bound judicially 
to take notice of the existing relations of the States as to foreign 
States and sovereignties, their colonies and dependencies." 

That great judge and the Supreme Court declare as follows: 
"Those questions which respect the rights of a foreign empire, 
which asserts and is contending for its independence, and the con- 
duct which must be observed by the courts of the Union toward 
the subjects of such sections of an empire who may be brought 
before the tribunals of this country are equally difficult and delicate. 
As it is understood that the construction which has been given to 
the acts of Congress will render a particular answer unnecessary, 
the court will only observe that such questions are generally rather 
political than legal in their character. They belong more properly 
to those who can declare what the law should be ; who can place 
the nation in such a position with respect to foreign powers as 
to their judgment may seem wise; to whom are intrusted all its 
foreign relations ; than to that tribunal whose power as well as 
duty is confined to the application of the rule which the legislature 
may prescribe for it. In such contests the nation may engage itself 
with one party or the other — may observe absolute neutrality — 
may recognize the new state absolutely ; or may make a limited 
recognition of it. The proceedings in courts must depend so 
entirely on the course of the government that it is difficult to give 
a precise answer to questions which do not refer to a particular 
nation. This court is of opinion that when a civil war rages in a 
foreign nation — one part of which separates itself from the old 
established government — the courts of the Union must view such 
newly constituted government as it is viewed by the legislative 
and executive departments of the Government of the United 

Then the same learned judge, in the case of The Divina Pastora, 
4 Wheat. (17 U. S.) 52, decided at the next term of the Supreme 

John Newland Maffitt 373 

Court, says that "the decision at the last term in U. S. V. Palma 
(supra) establishes the principle that the Government of the Union 
having- recognized the existence of a civil war between Spain and 
her colonies, but remaining neutral, the courts of the Union are 
bound to consider as lawful those acts which were authorized and 
which the new government in South America may direct against 
their enemy." Hence I conclude that for the reason that the 
Government of the United States had recognized the existence of 
a civil war between Spain and her colonies, the courts were for- 
bidden to say that the act of capturing The Divina Pastora was 
unlawful. That the court could not say, after such an acknowledg- 
ment, if the capturing ship had come within the jurisdiction of the 
United States, that she was a piratical vessel, and treat her as 
such. That the effect of such acknowledgment was to accord to 
the war power belligerent rights, so far as the United States were 
concerned ; one of which is to grant letters of marque and reprisal, 
one of the advantages arising from which (to such as act under 
them) is exemption from the penalty of piracy. This is but saying 
to such a people that we see and understand that you are struggling 
to separate from the mother country. 

That whether a revolted colony is to be treated as a sovereign 
state, even de facto, is a political question and to be decided by the 
Government, and not the court, has been decided in effect in 
several other cases than those before mentioned, as in Kennett 
v. Chambers, 14 How. (55 U. S.) 38; Clark v. U. S. (Case No. 

And in the great case of Luther v. Bonden, 7 How. (48 U. S.) 
17, than in the argument of which the great American constitu- 
tional lawyer rarely if ever displayed more learning, the Supreme 
Court unmistakably declared, against the view urged by Mr. 
Webster, that the Federal courts have no jurisdiction of the ques- 
tion whether a government, organized in a state, is the duly con- 
stituted government in the state. That is a question which belongs 
to the political, not to the judicial power. In that case any dis- 
position of that question could not have disturbed our relation 
with any established foreign power. No power with whom the 
United States was at peace or to whom our Government was 
solemnly pledged to a just and clearly prescribed course, as by our 
neutrality acts, could or would have complained of a contrary de- 
cision in that case — and still that was held not to be a question for 
the court. 

How much the more reason in the conclusion to which our courts 
have come, and on which they have acted in relation to this sub- 

374 The Life and Services of 

ject, where even by possibility their action might involve our 
country in war with foreign powers. There are other cases to 
which I might refer establishing in my view this principle. 

I do not deem it necessary to refer to the other cases cited by 
the counsel for the Government. It cannot be intended that such 
power should be vested in the courts. It would be a power 
dangerous to our Government to be so vested, and one which 
judges could not so well exercise as Congress or the Executive. 

If the courts have the power to do any act which would in effect 
accord to this new government advantages, I do not see what limit 
there would be to the benefits which they might so confer, and the 
result might be that our nation would be involved in a war from 
the action of one judge, when the people and those who represent 
the people were disposed to peace. 

If the courts, before the political departments had spoken, have 
the right to take one step in this direction, I do not see any limit 
to their power, short of declaring perfect freedom and independ- 
ence. What act has been performed, what resolution, what 
declaration or proclamation has been made by Congress or the 
Executive, indicating an intention on their part to acknowledge at 
any time or to any extent the existence of the Republic of Cuba? 

The court knows of no such act, and nothing of that character 
has been shown or alleged by counsel. Then this court cannot 
know of the existence of any such government. Such knowledge 
is essential to the admission of this agent, as claimant for his 

My time for the examination of this question has not been so 
ample as I could have desired. v 

Application denied. 

The case was then appealed to the Circuit Court, as the 
following will show : 

[The Nezv York Times, June n, 1870.] 

Gen. Butler's Cuban Investigation Committee on Cuba — 
The Case of the "Hornet" — Release of the Vessel by 
Order of the President. 

Washington, June 12. — The Cuban privateer Hornet has been 
under seizure since last fall at Wilmington, N. C. Mr. Lemus, as 
Charge of the Cuban Rqxiblic, appeared in the District Court of 
North Carolina in November last, and claimed the vessel as the 

John Newland Maffitt 375 

property of the Cuban Republic, but Judge Brooks decided the 
court could not take notice of the existence of the Republic of 
Cuba. An appeal was taken from this decision to the Circuit, but 
yesterday the President directed the release of the vessel and all 
the property seized to Mr. Fernando Marcias, the original pur- 
chaser of the vessel from the United States Government, requiring, 
however, bonds in the sum of $50,000 that the vessel shall not be 
used to commit hostilities against Spain, nor in any other way, in 
violation to the neutrality laws of the United States. 

Gen. B. F. Butler and Hon. W. E. Chandler are the sureties 
upon the bond of Mr. Marcias. The vessel and other property 
restored are valued at about $100,000, and the decision of the 
President to release is the cause of great rejoicing among the 
friends of the Cuban patriots. 

The next tells of Captain Maffitt' s connection with the fore- 
going events, and is also taken from the columns of the New 
York Times: 


The "Hornet" Allowed to Proceed to New York — An 
ex-Confederate in Command. 

Washington, June 21. — The Secretary of the Treasury has 
telegraphed to the Collector of Customs at Wilmington giving 
permission to the Cuban privateer Hornet, which was captured 
at that port, to proceed to New York. 

Wilmington, N. C, June 21. — The guns, etc., have been re- 
placed on the steamer Cuba (formerly the Hornet). It is thought 
she will leave here for New York, in a few days, under the charge 
of Capt. J. N. Maffitt, formerly commander of the Confederate 
cruiser Florida. 

Just before the above date Captain Maffitt received a letter 
from J. W. Barron, in behalf of the Cuban Junta, containing 
the following paragraph : 

"The Junta needs a report about the Cuba or Hornet. What is 
her present condition — is she seaworthy — what is her value (more 
or less) — what may be the necessary expenses to bring her to this 
port? And whatever other information that may be useful, about 
her. And I am desired by them to request you to examine her 

376 The Life and Services of 

and write to me fully about all these particulars — sending at the 
same time a note of your expenses, etc. Will you do me this 

This letter is dated New York, June 4, 1870, Junta Central 
Republicana de Cuba and Puerto Rico, No. 71 Broadway. 

Immediately the impression became general that Captain 
Maffitt intended to head an expedition in aid of Cuba, and 
many ardent spirits applied to him for permission to join him. 
He, however, assured me that such was not the case, but that 
he had agreed to take charge of the Cuba and convey her to 
New York and there deliver her to her owners — which he 
subsequently did. 

During the war Captain Maffitt had formed a high opinion 
of the abilities of Mr. James Sprunt and had requested for him 
the position of purser of the Lilian, the blockade-runner which 
he at one time had commanded, resigning her to command the 
steam ram Albemarle. Mr. Sprunt remained with the Lilian 
as purser for three consecutive trips. When Captain Maffitt 
decided to take command of the Cuba he sent, through a mutual 
friend, a message to Mr. Sprunt requesting him to become his 
chief executive. Other business engagements compelled Mr. 
Sprunt to decline the position, but he appreciated the compli- 
ment, which his modesty caused him to feel was beyond his 
ability, and he has never wavered in his affectionate attentions 
to Captain Maffitt living and to keep alive his memory since 
his death. In "Regimental Histories," Vol. V, North Caro- 
lina, Mr. Sprunt has some very interesting and valuable papers 
well worth perusing as part of the history of the closing days 
of the Confederacy. 


Captain Maffitt marries— Visited by friends— Mr. David McRae— His letter 
of thanks and appreciation — His book and description of his visit to 
Captain Maffitt and the latter's career and conversation in regard to 
the late war — A coincidence. 

Captain Maffitt and I were married November 23, 1870, at 
the home of my father, Mr. Alfred Martin, 412 Market street, 
Wilmington, North Carolina, by Rev. A. A. Watson, afterward 
Bishop of East Carolina. Our home was of course The 
Moorings. Many friends visited us at our simple home. 
Col. Duncan K. McRae and his accomplished wife were of 
these, and their reminiscent talks always delighted me. Friends 
from a distance frequently gathered at our table. Col. Edward 
Anderson, of Savannah, who had entered the old Navy with 
Captain Maffitt, was among these. Mr. David McRae of 
Scotland wrote the accompanying note in appreciation of his 
visit, which, however, took place prior to our marriage : 

Wilmington, N. C, January 10, i< 
My Dear Sir : How shall I thank you for all your kindness— 
the MS., notes, the sword, the notes of introduction, and the use of 
the album, which I now beg with many thanks to return to you. 

The sword and the likeness I shall long treasure as memorials 
of your generosity, and the memorable courtesy with which I have 
been treated by yourself, your son, and other friends* in this 
hospitable city. I hope an opportunity may yet occur of indicating 
in a fuller manner my appreciation of this kindness. Believe me, 
dear sir, Yours with sincere respect, 

David McRae. 

This gentleman was the author of a book narrating the 
incidents of his visit to America, and one of our daily papers 
copied this extract from it : 

*Mr. James Sprunt, ever foremost in hospitality, was conspicuous among 
the latter. 

378 The Life and Services of 

Captain Maffitt and the Confederate Navy. 

Amongst the many interesting men I met at Wilmington was 
the well-known Captain Maffitt, whose adventurous career upon 
the high seas as commander of the Florida excited so much atten- 
tion at the time. 

I had heard a good deal about Maffitt in the North, where he 
was regarded by many as perhaps the ablest naval officer who had 
lent his sword to the Confederacy. It was said by more than one 
that if he had stood by the North he would have been in Admiral 
Farragut's place to-day. 

He held, however, strong Southern views, resigned his commis- 
sion in the United States Navy, and, in 1862, took command of the 
Florida (then called the Oreto), and sailed from Nassau with 
twenty men all told, intending to make for some Confederate port 
where he could have the steamer equipped and invested with a 
proper nationality. Two days after leaving Nassau yellow fever 
broke out on board ; twelve out of the twenty men died, and Maffitt 
himself was prostrated by the fearful plague and not expected to 
live. Nevertheless, he proceeded to Havana, and sailed thence for 
Mobile, where the Florida made her appearance on the 4th of 
September off Mobile bar. Here she was encountered by three 
Federal men-of-war, and was ordered to heave to. Maffitt, who 
(though scarcely able after the fever to support himself without 
assistance) had resumed command, paid no attention but held on 
his course. Immediately the squadron opened fire with deadly 
effect, shot after shot striking the ship, shattering her boats and 
damaging her hull, rigging and spars. Eleven men were wounded, 
and one man's head was torn off by an eleven-inch shell. Maffitt, 
however, held on, and to the amazement both of his pursuers and 
those who were watching from the shores conducted his command 
safely into port. 

Before the Florida was equipped and again ready for sea, the 
Federal force outside had been increased from three to thirteen 
heavily armed steamers, and the commodore reported to the 
Government at Washington that there was nothing to fear, as the 
Florida was sealed up hermetically in Mobile Bay. Maffitt, how- 
ever, was not a man to be easily intimidated. Early one morning 
he got up steam, moved out just before dawn, and was discovered 
steaming right through the formidable fleet that had been on the 
watch for him. Such a firing and racing and chasing ensued, as 
probably the Mexican Gulf had never seen before; but Maffitt 

John Newland Maffitt 379 

with his little Florida escaped, and was soon forth on his terrible 
career lighting up the ocean with the flames of captured and burn- 
ing ships. 

I found the Captain a cultivated and gentlemanly man, small 
sized and spare in figure, but with a fine cast head, a dark keen eye, 
a strong tuft of black whiskers on his chin, and firm little mouth, 
that seemed to express the energy and determination of his char- 
acter. I remember very well his dignified appearance as he 
stepped about in his short military cloak, and with his keen and 
somewhat stern look. He was in reduced circumstances, having 
staked his whole fortune and position upon the lost cause ; but like 
so many of his old military and naval associates, he was trying 
his hand at business, and striving to reconcile himself to the new 
order of things. 

"But," said he, shaking his head ruefully, when conversing with 
me on this subject, "a man who has been brought up to the Navy 
is not fit for much else." 

Speaking of the war, he said : "The Northern Navy contributed 
materially to the successful issue of the war. The grand mistake 
of the South was neglecting her Navy. All our army movements 
out West were baffled by the armed Federal steamers which 
swarmed on Western waters, and which our Government had pro- 
vided nothing to meet. Before the capture of New Orleans, the 
South ought to have had a Navy strong enough to prevent the 
capture of that city, and hold firmly the Mississippi and its tribu- 
taries. This would have prevented many disastrous battles ; it 
would have made Sherman's march through the country impossi- 
ble ; and Lee would still have been master of his lines. Yes, sir, 
the errors of our Government were numerous, but her neglect of 
the Navy proved irremediable and fatal. 

"Nobody here," he continued, "would believe at first that a great 
war was before us. South Carolina seceded first, and improvised 
a navy consisting of two small tug-boats ! North Carolina followed 
suit, and armed a tug and a small passenger boat! Georgia, 
Alabama, and Louisiana put in commission a handful of frail 
river boats that you could have knocked to pieces with a pistol- 
shot. That' was our Navy! Then came Congress, and voted 
money to pay officers like myself who had resigned from the 
Federal Navy, but nothing to build or arm any ships for us to 
command ! 

"Of course it woke up by and by, and ordered vessels to be built 
here, there, and everywhere ; but it was too late. 

380 The Life and Services of 

"And yet," said the Captain, with a momentary kindling of the 
eye as the thought of other days came back to him, "the Con- 
federate Navy, minute though it was, won a place for itself in 
history. To the Confederates the credit belongs of testing in battle 
the invulnerability of ironclads and of revolutionizing the navies of 
the world. The Mcrrimac did that. And though we had but a 
handful of light cruisers, while the ocean swarmed with armed 
Federal vessels, we defied the Federal Navy and swept Northern 
commerce from the seas. 

"If only," he added, "the old usage in regard to sea prizes in 
neutral ports had been still in vogue, we should have done more, 
and the pecuniary gain to the officers and men and to the Con- 
federate Government would have been immense — but a Con- 
federate cruiser out upon the ocean was a lonely knight-errant. 
Her nationality was unrecognized; her facilities for supply and 
repairs hampered by neutrality proclamations that affected only 
her. She had to do everything for herself, live upon the enemy, 
and contend friendless and alone against the world. Well, it is 
all over now." 


In New York I heard of an extraordinary coincidence which 
connects itself with Captain Maffitt. 

A gentleman on his way, with his wife, from New York to 
some port in the Southern seas — I forget the name — was expressing 
to a friend his fervent hope that no "Confederate pirate" would 
catch sight of him. "Well," said his friend, "God help you if 
Semmes gets his clutches on you. But I'll tell you what I can do. 
I know Maffitt, and if you like I can give you a note of introduc- 
tion to him. If you should fall foul of the Florida it may serve 
some purpose." 

He wrote out a note more in fun than earnest and the gentle- 
man, with a laugh, took it, put it in his pocket-book, and thought 
no more about it. It was on the tenth or eleventh day of the 
voyage that a suspicious-looking craft hove in sight, gave chase, 
and brought their ship to with a shot across her bows. It 
turned out to be the Florida! A boat came off, seized the ship, 
took off all on board, and set her on fire. When the gentleman 
found himself with his fellow-captives on the deck of the Florida 
he got out his note and presented it to Captain Maffitt. The 
Captain read it, laughed, shook the gentleman's hand, paid him 

John Newland Maffitt 381 

many kind attentions, and gave up his own cabin to him and his 
wife till an opportunity should occur of putting - them ashore. 

I asked Captain Maffitt himself if the story was true. He said 
it was, and that it was one of the most extraordinary coincidences 
he had ever known to occur. 


Birth of his children and life at the "Moorings" — Captain Maffitt summoned 
as a witness in Court of Inquiry — Admiral Porter relates to him the true 
history of the sinking of the Florida — Report of Captain C. M. Morris 
of the seizure of the Florida by the U. S. S. Wachusctt— Letter of 
Mr. de Videky — Report of Commander N. Collins of the attack upon 
the Florida and her seizure — Interview between Admiral Porter and 
Secretary Seward — Orders to sink the Florida — Protest of Brazil and 
answer of Mr. Seward — Trial and condemnation of Commander 
Collins — Secretary G. Welles disapproves the sentence — The amende 
honorable to the Brazilian flag. 

Our union was blessed with three children — Mary Read, 
now Mrs. H. L. Borden, named for Captain Maffitt' s step- 
daughter from our sincere affection for her ; Clarence Dudley, 
our first son, named for my young brother who had died at the 
age of eighteen from a bayonet wound received in defense of 
the Southern cause, and Robert Strange. 

Captain Maffitt was a most devoted husband and father, 
never happier than when, with his family gathered around him, 
he could show those little attentions so dear to the affectionate 
heart. The first apple or peach blossom, the first fruit of any 
description, was always plucked and brought to me, and he 
never ceased to render these evidences of thoughtful love. 

Every Christmas the whole family spent several days with 
us, and all was gaiety and happiness, feasting and merriment. 

My husband greatly enjoyed correspondence with his naval 
friends of other days, in all of which I participated. The Rev. 
Dr. Lambert of Boston, who had been chaplain on board 
several men-of-war on which Captain Maffitt had served while 
in the United States Navy, and Captain, afterward Admiral. 
A. C. Rhind, were among frequent correspondents, and his old 
friend and enemy Admiral G. H. Preble was the most constant. 

When in 1862 Captain Preble announced to Admiral 
Farragut the pain and mortification he experienced at the 

John Newland Maffitt 383 

escape through his command of the "rebel" steamer Florida, 
owing, as he officially stated, "to her speed and the unparalleled 
audacity of her commander," the United States Government, 
irritated by the escape of the steamer, disregarded Captain 
Preble's earnest applications for a court martial, and with 
unjust haste summarily dismissed him from the Navy. In 
May, 1872, Captain Maffitt was summoned to Washington to 
testify in the Court of Inquiry in the case of Capt. George H. 
Preble, U. S. N., as a witness, and it was largely upon his 
testimony that Captain Preble was restored to his place and 
proper grade in the Navy. 

While in Washington one evening at the house of Admiral 
Porter, or when he was present, Captain Maffitt asked Admiral 
Porter if he would mind giving him the true account of the 
sinking of the Florida. The Admiral answered, "Not at all," 
and gave him the true account, which I find among my 
husband's notes. 

It will be recalled by those conversant with the history of 
those days that Captain Maffitt, having been compelled from 
ill health to ask to be relieved from command of the Florida, 
was first succeeded by Captain Barney, C. S. N., and he later 
by Capt. C. M. Morris, C. S. N. Cruising for some months 
after she left the port of Brest, France, and making many 
captures, the Florida entered the harbor of Bahia, Brazil, on 
the evening of October 4, 1864, — where already had been lying 
for some days the U. S. S. Wachusctt, — for the purpose 
declared by her commander to the president of the province, 
"to supply herself with alimentary provisions and coal, and to 
repair some tubes of her machinery." 

According to the report of Lieutenant Morris, C. S. Navy, 
late commanding C. S. S. Florida, of the seizure of that vessel 
by the U. S. S.' Wachusett, the circumstances were as follows : 

I arrived at this port on the 4th inst. at 9 p. m., to procure coal 
and provisions, and also to get some slight repairs, after a cruise 

384 The Life and Services of 

of sixty-one days. Just after anchoring a boat passing around us 
asked the name of our vessel, and upon receiving our reply stated 
that the boat was from H. B. M. S. Curlezu. 

Next morning I found that the U. S. S. Wachusett was at 
anchor near us, but no English steamer, so I at once concluded 
that the boat which hailed us the evening before was from the 
W[achusett]. We were visited on the morning of the 5th by a 
Brazilian officer, to whom I stated my wants, and was informed by 
him that he would report the same to the President, and that until 
his answer was received we could hold no communication with the 
shore. At noon I received a communication (which was left on 
board the Florida) from the President, stating that he was ready 
to receive me. At my interview he informed me that forty-eight 
hours would be allowed me to refit and repair, but that should his 
chief engineer, whom he would send on board to examine the 
machinery, deem the time too short, he would grant the necessary 
extension. He was most urgent in his request that I would strictly 
observe the laws of neutrality (implying by his manner, and in 
fact almost in as many words, that he had no fears on account of 
the United States steamer, but that I was the cause of uneasiness 
to him, lest I should attack the Wachusett in port), at the same 
time stating to me that he had received most solemn assurances 
from the U. S. consul that the United States steamer would do 
nothing while in port contrary to the laws of nations or of Brazil, 
and that he desired the same from me, which I unhesitatingly gave. 
The Brazilian Admiral, who was present at the interview, 
suggested that I had better move my vessel between his ship and 
the shore, as our proximity to the Wachusett might cause some 
difficulty. My assurances to the President seemed to set his mind 
at rest on the score of any collision between the two vessels, and 
upon leaving him I immediately repaired on board and moved the 
Florida close inshore to the position suggested by the Admiral. 
I found the Brazilian engineer on board, and was informed by 
him that it would require four days to repair the pipe of the 
condenser. Feeling now no apprehension of any difficulty 
occurring while in port, and wishing to gratify the crew with a 
short liberty, not only on the score of good conduct, but also of 
health, I determined to permit one watch at a time to go ashore 
for twelve hours, and sent the port watch off that afternoon. 
About 7.30 p. m. a boat came alongside stating that she was from 
the U. S. S. Wachusett, with the U. S. consul, who had an official 
communication for the commander of the Florida. The letter 

John Newland Maffitt 385 

with the card of the consul was handed to First Lieutenant Porter, 
who, after examining it and finding it directed to Captain Morris, 
sloop Florida, returned it unopened to the consul, stating that it 
was improperly addressed ; that the vessel was the C. S. S. Florida, 
and that when the letter was so directed it would be received. The 
next day (6th) a Mr. de Videky came on board, having received 
a letter from the U. S. consul enclosing one for me. He requested 
me, before receiving my letter, to permit him to read the one sent 
to him. It was a request to Mr. de V. to carry a challenge to the 
commander of the Florida, and in case of its acceptance to offer 
his (the consul's) influence in having the repairs of the Florida 
speedily finished. I informed Mr. de V. that I had heard quite 
enough, and finding the letter for me still improperly addressed, 
declined receiving it, but at the same time said to him that T had 
come to Bahia for a special purpose, which being accomplished I 
would leave ; that I would neither seek nor avoid a contest with 
the Wachusett, but should I encounter her outside of Brazilian 
waters, would use my utmost endeavors to destroy her. I enclose 
a letter, marked i, since received from Mr. de Videky. That 
afternoon, the port watch having returned, I sent the starboard 
watch ashore on liberty, going also myself, in company with 
several of the officers. 

At 3.30 a. m. on the 7th I was awakened by the proprietor of 
the hotel at which I was staying and told that there was some 
trouble on board the Florida, as he heard firing and cheering in 
the direction of the vessel, but on account of the darkness was 
unable to discern anything. I immediately hastened to the 
landing, and was informed by a Brazilian officer that the U. S. S. 
Wachusett had rammed and captured the Florida and was then 
towing her out of the harbor. I hurried off to the Admiral's 
vessel and was told by him that he was at once going in pursuit. 

The above report is to Flag Officer Samuel Barron, C. S. 
Navy, Commanding C. S. Naval Forces in Europe. 

The following letter from Mr. de Videky to Lieutenant 
Morris is of interest : 

Bahia, October 7, 1864. 
Dear Sir : I feel bound to address you after the fatal affair 
of last night has happened. When I accepted to go on board your 
vessel, I did so firmly believing that the mission I had to you v 

386 The Life and Services of 

meant honestly and in good faith. Had I only the slightest idea 
that the man who sent me to you on a mission, as I thought of 
honor, was at the same time meditating (as it appears now) such 
an infamous, blackguardly trick as he played, I certainly never 
should have accepted it. How could I think such villainy to be 
possible ! Be sure that whenever I shall meet that faithless scoun- 
drel who calls himself a consul of the United States of America, 
and goes by the name of Wilson, I will take my revenge, and 
treat him as he deserves it. I am very sorry for what has happened, 
and I am still more sorry for having accepted that mission of 
carrying a letter or verbal communication from him. My services 
are at your orders if you should require them. I am still in 
possession of his two letters, which I could not deliver to him, 
as I could not find him after I saw you. He has not got your 
answer at all, which proves still more that miserable and lawless 
trick must have been meditated before and at the same time when 
he pretended to offer a fair engagement outside the jurisdiction of 
the Government of the Brazils. 

I am, dear sir, your very obedient servant, 

L. de Videky. 
C. M. Morris, 

Officer in Navy of Confederate States of America. 

From the report of Commander Collins, U. S. Navy, com- 
manding U. S. S. Wachusett, to Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary 
of the Navy, I obtain this :* 

U. S. S. "Wachusett/ 
St. Thomas, West Indies, October 31, 1864. 

Sir : The following is a detailed report of the capture of the 
rebel steamer Florida in the Bay of San Salvador, Brazil, by the 
officers and crew of this vessel without loss of life. 

At three o'clock on the morning of October 7, 1864, the 
Wachusett [with an utter abnegation by her commander of his 
word of honor, for he was certainly bound by the solemn promise 
of the consul of his Government] slipped her cable and steered 
for the Florida about five-eighths of a mile distant. An unfore- 
seen circumstance prevented us from striking her as intended. 
We, however, struck her on the starboard quarter, cutting down 

*See Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies, Series I, V. 
3, published by the U. S. Government. 

John Newland Maffitt 387 

her bulwarks and carrying away her mizzenmast and main yard. 
Immediately upon striking we backed off, believing she would 
sink from the effects of the blow. 

In backing clear we received a few pistol shots from the Florida 
which were returned with a volley, and, contrary to my orders, two 
of my broadside guns were fired, when she surrendered. 

In the absence of Captain Morris, who was on shore, Lieut. 
Thomas E. Porter, formerly of the U. S. Navy, came on board 
and surrendered the Florida with fifty-eight men and twelve 
officers, making at the same time an oral protest against the 

We took a hawser to the Florida and towed her to sea. 

I regret, however, to state that they (the Brazilian authorities) 
fired three shotted guns at us while we were towing the Florida 

After daylight a Brazilian sloop of war, in tow of a paddle gun- 
boat, was discovered following us. With the aid of sail on both 
vessels we gradually increased our distance from them. 

The Florida was towed to sea amid the execrations of the 
Brazilian forces — Army and Navy — who, taken by surprise, 
fired a few ineffectual shots at the infringer of the neutrality 
of the hospitable port of Bahia. The Florida was taken to 
Hampton Roads. Brazil instantly demanded the restoration 
of the Florida intact to her anchorage at Bahia. 

Captain Maffitt wrote in regard to this : 

Mr. Lincoln appeared exceedingly mortified and confused on 
receiving protests from the different representatives of the Courts 
of Europe denunciatory of this extraordinary breach of national 
neutrality. Mr. Seward, with his usual diplomatic insincerity 
and Machiavellian characteristics, prevaricated, while he plotted 
with a distinguished Admiral as to the most adroit method of dis- 
posing of this elephant. During an interview between Mr. Seward 
and Admiral Porter, the former exclaimed, "I wish she was at 
the bottom of the sea !" "Do you mean it ?'• exclaimed Porter. 
"I do, from my soul !" was the answer. "It shall be done,' replied 
Porter. Admiral Porter placed an engineer in charge of the 
stolen steamer, his imperative instructions being, "Before midnight 
open the sea cock, and do not leave that engine-room until the 
water is up to your chin. At sunrise that rebel craft must be a 
thing of the past, resting on the bottom of the sea." 

388 The Life and Services of 

At daylight the Florida was no longer to be seen. Rumors 
were incited — an army transport had run unto her — an unknown 
leak had caused the sinking, etc., etc., but in naval circles foul play 
was openly asserted. Eventually the principal actor avowed the 
deed as instigated by the Secretary of State, to avoid the reparation 
demanded by Brazil and urged by the diplomatic representatives 
of Europe. 

"To let loose this fearful scourge upon our commerce would be 
terrible — it must be avoided !" said the "higher law" Secretary. 

"It shall be done!" said the naval commander. And it was 

The following note is added to the above by my husband, 
who penned this whole narrative soon after his return home 
from Washington, and I have heard him relate the same : 

Note. — Admiral Porter in 1872 thus explained to me the strange 
disappearance of the Florida and his participation in the plot, by 
which the United States Government was relieved from the neces- 
sity of restoring, intact, the Florida to her anchorage in Bahia. 

From the "Official Records of the Union and Confederate 
Navies" I copy this protest : 

Imperial Legation of Brazil, 
Washington, December 12, 1864. 

The undersigned, charge d'affaires ad interim of his Majesty the 
Emperor of Brazil, has just received orders from his Government 
to address himself without delay to that of the United States of 
North America about an act of most transcendent gravity done on 
the morning of the 7th day of October last in the port of the 
capital of the province of Bahia by the war steamer Wachusctt, 
belonging to the Navy of the Union, an act which involves a mani- 
fest violation of the territorial jurisdiction of the Empire and an 
offense to its honor and sovereignty. 

On the 4th day of the month referred to there entered that port — 
where already had been lying for some days the Wachusett — the 
Confederate steamer Florida, for the purpose, declared by her 
commander to the President of the province, to supply herself with 
alimentary provisions and coal, and to repair some tubes to her 

John Newland Maffitt 389 

The President, proceeding in accordance with the policy of 
neutrality which the Empire resolved to adopt on the question in 
which unfortunately these States are involved, and in conformity 
with the instructions in this respect issued by the Imperial Govern- 
ment on the 23d of June of the year last past, assented to the 
application of the commander of the Florida, and fixed the term 
of forty-eight hours for taking in supplies, and fixing, in depend- 
ence on the final examination by the engineer of the arsenal, the 
determination of the residue of the time which, peradventure, 
should be deemed indispensable for the completion of the repairs. 

The same authority at once took, with the greatest impartiality, 
all the measures necessary to avoid any conflict between the two 
hostile steamers. 

The Florida was placed under cover of the batteries of the 
Brazilian corvette D[ona] J armaria, on the inshore side, at the 
request of her (the Januaria's) commander, who, reposing on the 
faith with which, without doubt, the chief authority of the province 
could not fail to inspire him, considered himself sheltered from 
any attack of his adversary, and in this confidence not only stayed 
a night on shore, but gave liberty to a great part of the crew of 
his vessel. 

It behooves me to say that as soon as the Confederate steamer 
entered the port of Bahia the American consul, Wilson, addressed 
to the President a dispatch claiming that the Florida should not be 
admitted to free pratique, and that on the contrary she should be 
detained, alleging for this that that vessel had, in concert with the 
Alabama, violated the neutrality of the Empire by making captures 
in 1863 near the island of Fernando de Noronha. 

Such exaggerated pretensions formed on facts not proven, 
which had already been the subject of discussion between the 
Imperial Government and the legation of the United States, could 
not be even listened to. 

If the President should have refused the hospitality solicited 
by the commander of the Florida he would have infringed not 
only the duties of neutrality of the Empire, but also those of 
humanity, considering that that steamer, coming from Tenerifre, 
had been sixty-one days at sea, was unprovided with food, and 
with machinery in the worst condition. 

Afterward, the President having stated to the same consul that 
he hoped from his honor and loyalty toward a friendly nation 
that he would settle with the commander of the Wachusett that 
he should respect the neutrality and sovereignty of the Empire, he 
was answered affirmatively, the consul pledging his word of honor. 

390 The Life and Services of 

Things were in this condition, the time of forty-eight hours 
being to expire at I o'clock of the afternoon of the 7th, when 
about dawn of that day, the commander of the steamer Wachusett, 
suddenly leaving her anchorage, passed through the Brazilian 
vessels of war and approached the Florida. 

On passing across the bows of the Brazilian corvette D[ona] 
Januaria he was hailed from on board that he must anchor, but 
as he did not attend to this intimation, and continued to approach 
the Florida, at the same time firing a gun and some musketry, the 
commander of the naval division of the Empire stationed in those 
waters sent an officer to board the Wachusett and informed her 
commander that the ships of the division and the forts would open 
fire upon her if she should attack the Florida. The Brazilian 
officer was not allowed to make fast to the Wachusett, but the 
officer of the deck hailed him, saying in reply that he accepted the 
intimation given, that he would do nothing more, and that he was 
going to return to his anchorage. The commander of the 
Brazilian division then thought proper to ratify his intimation by 
firing a gun, upon which a complete silence followed between the 
two ships, Wachusett and Florida. 

At the time this act was passing, the corvette D[ona] Januaria, 
on board which the commander of division had hoisted his flag, 
lay head to flood, the steamer Florida anchored bb [side by side] of 
her and quite close to the shore, and between her and the corvette 
the Wachusett stopped her wheels. 

The commander of division then observing, notwithstanding 
the darkness of the night, that the Wachusett, from the position 
in which she was, kept moving onward and was passing ahead of 
the corvette, on a course eb, became convinced that in fact she was 
steering for her anchorage, thus complying with the promise made ; 
but a few moments afterward, perceiving that the Florida was in 
motion, the commander discovered that the Wachusett was taking 
her off in tow by means of a long cable. 

Surprised at such an extraordinary attempt, the commander 
immediately set about stopping this and redressing at the same 
time, as behooved him, the offense thus done to the dignity and 
sovereignty of the Empire. But availing himself of the darkness 
of the night, and of other circumstances, the commander of the 
Wachusett succeeded in carrying his prize over the bar and 
escaping the just punishment he deserves. 

The consul, Wilson, preferred to abandon his post, withdrawing 
on board the Wachusett. 

John Newland Maffitt 391 

The Government of his Majesty, as soon as it had official infor- 
mation of the event, addressed to the legation of the United States 
at Rio de Janeiro a note, in which, giving a succinct exposition of 
the fact, it declared that it had no hesitation in believing it would 
hasten to give to it all proper assurances that the Government of 
the Union would attend to the just reclamation of the Empire as 
promptly and fully as the gravity of the case demanded. 

In correspondence with the expectative note, the worthy 
representative of the United States was prompt in sending his 
reply in which he declares he is convinced that his Government 
will give to that of the Empire the reparation which is due to it. 

Such are the facts to which the undersigned has received orders 
to call to the attention of the Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary 
of State of the United States. 

The principles of international law which regulate this matter 
and in respect of which there is not the least divergence among 
the most distinguished publicists, are common and known to all. 
The undersigned would fail to recognize the high intelligence of 
the Hon. Mr. Seward if, perchance, he should enter in this respect 
into fuller developments. 

He limits himself, then, only to recall a memorable example in 
which these principles, invariably sustained by the United States, 
had entire application. 

In 1793 the great Washington, then being President of the 
United States, and the illustrious Jefferson, Secretary of State, 
the French frigate L' Embuscade captured the English ship Grange 
in Delaware Bay, thus violating the neutrality and the territorial 
sovereignty of the United States. The American Government 
remonstrated energetically against this violation, and required 
from the Government of the French Republic, not only the 
immediate delivery of the captured vessel, but also the complete 
liberation of all the persons found on board. 

This reclamation was promptly satisfied. Much more grave, 
certainly, is the occurrence in the port of the province of Bahia, 
which makes the subject of the present note. By the special 
circumstances which preceded and attended it this act has no 
parallel in the annals of modern maritime wars. 

The commander of the Wachasctt not only gravely offended 
the territorial immunities of the Empire, passing beyond the laws 
of war by attacking treacherously during the night a defenseless 
ship, whose crew, much reduced because more than sixty men 

392 The Life and Services of 

were on shore with the commander, and several officers reposed, 
unwary, beneath the shadow of the protection which the neutrality 
of the Empire guaranteed to them. 

And so open was the violation, so manifest the offense, that the 
enlightened American press was almost unanimous in condemna- 
tion of the inexcusable proceeding of Commander Collins. 

On this occasion, reminding the United States, whose antece- 
dents are well known and noted in history by the energetic defense 
of and respect for neutral rights, of these unshaken principles, the 
undersigned can not consider the event which occurred at Bahia 
otherwise than as the individual act of the commander of the 
Wachusctt, not authorized or approved by his Government, and 
that it will consequently give to the Government of his Majesty 
the Emperor the explanations and reparation which, in conformity 
with international law, are due to a power which maintains friendly 
and pacific relations with the United States. 

The just reclamation of the Imperial Government being thus 
presented, the undersigned awaits the reply of the Hon. Mr. 
Seward, and, fully confiding in his exalted wisdom and in the 
justice of the Government of the United States, he has not, even 
for a moment, doubted but that it will be as satisfactory as the 
incontestable right which aids the Empire and the vast gravity 
of the offense which was done to it may require. 

The undersigned avails of this opportunity of having the honor 
to reiterate to the Hon. William H. Seward the protestations of 
his most distinguished consideration. 

Ignacio de Avellar Barloza da Silva. 
His Excellency Hon. William H. Seward, 

Secretary of State of the United States. 

The answer to this is given below, taken from the same 
source as the above : 

Department of State, 
Washington, December 26, 1864. 
Sir : I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note 
which sets forth the sentiments of the Imperial Government of 
Brazil concerning the capture of the Florida by the U. S. war 
steamer Wachusctt in the port of Bahia. You will, of course, 
explain to your Government that, owing to an understanding 
between you and myself, your note, although it bears the date of 
the 12th of December, was not submitted to me until the 21st 

John Newland Maffitt 393 

Jealousy of foreign intervention in every form and absolute 
nonintervention in the domestic affairs of foreign nations are 
cardinal principles in the policy of the United States. You have 
justly expected that the President would disavow and regret the 
proceedings at Bahia. He will suspend Captain Collins, and 
direct him to appear before a court-martial. 

The consul at Bahia admits that he advised and incited the 
captain and was active in the proceedings. He will therefore be 

The flag of Brazil will receive from the United States Navy 
the honor customary in the intercourse of friendly maritime 

It is, however, not to be understood that this Government admits 
or gives credit to the charges of falsehood, treachery and decep- 
tion, which you have brought against the captain and the consul. 
These charges are denied on the authority of the officers accused. 

You will also be pleased to understand that the answer now 
given to your representation rests exclusively upon the ground 
that the capture of the Florida was unauthorized, unlawful, and 
indefensible exercise of the naval force of the United States 
within a foreign country in defiance of its established and duly 
recognized Government. 

This Government disallows your assumption that the insurgents 
of this country are a lawful naval belligerent, and, on the contrary, 
it maintains that the imputation of that character by the Govern- 
ment of Brazil to insurgent citizens of the United States who have 
hitherto been, and who still are, destitute of naval forces, ports, 
and courts is an act of intervention in derogation of the law of 
nations, and unfriendly and wrongful, as it is manifestly injurious, 
to the United States. 

So also the Government disallows your assumption that the 
Florida belonged to the aforementioned insurgents, and maintains, 
on the contrary, that the vessel, like the Alabama, was a pirate 
belonging to no nation or lawful belligerent, and therefore that 
the harboring and supplying of these piratical ships and their 
crews in Brazilian ports were wrongs and injuries for which 
Brazil justly owes reparation to the United States as ample as the 
reparation which she now receives from them. They hope and 
confidently expect this reciprocity in good time to restore the 
harmony and friendship which are so essential to the welfare 
and safety of the two countries. 

394 The Life and Services of 

In the position which I have thus assumed the Imperial Govern- 
ment will recognize an adherence to rights which have been con- 
stantly asserted and an enduring sense of injuries which have been 
the subject of earnest remonstrance by the United States during 
the last three years. The Government of Brazil is again informed 
that these positions of this Government are no longer deemed 
open to argument. It does not, however, belong to the captains 
of the ships of war of the United States or to the commanders of 
their armies or to their consuls residing in foreign ports, acting 
without the authority of Congress and without even executive 
direction, and choosing their own time, manner, and occasion, to 
assert the rights and redress the wrongs of the country. This 
power can be fully exercised only by the Government of the United 
States. As a member of the family of nations, the United States 
practice order, not anarchy, as they always prefer lawful pro- 
ceedings to aggressive violence or retaliation. The United States 
are happy in being able to believe that Brazil entertains the same 
sentiments. The authorities at Bahia are understood to have 
unsuccessfully employed force to overcome the Wachusett and 
rescue the Florida and to have continued the chase of the offender 
beyond the waters of Brazil out upon the high seas. Thus in the 
affair at Bahia subordinate agents, without the knowledge of their 
respective Governments, mutually inaugurated an unauthorized, 
irregular, and unlawful war. In desisting from that war on her 
part and appealing to the Government for redress Brazil rightly 
appreciated the character of the United States and set an example 
worthy of emulation. 

The disposition of the captured crew of the Florida is deter- 
mined upon the principles which I have laid down. Although 
the crew are enemies of the United States, and as they contend, 
enemies of the human race, yet the offenders were, nevertheless, 
unlawfully brought into the custody of this Government, and 
therefore they could not lawfully be subjected here to the punish- 
ment which they have deserved. Nor could they, being enemies, 
be allowed to enjoy the protection of the United States. They 
will therefore be set at liberty to seek a refuge wheresoever they 
may find it, with the hazard of recapture when beyond the jurisdic- 
tion of this Government. 

The Florida was brought into American waters and was 
anchored under naval surveillance and protection at Hampton 

John Newland Maffitt 395 

Roads. While awaiting - the representation of the Brazilian 
Government, on the 28th of November she sunk, owing to a leak 
which could not be seasonably stopped. The leak was at first 
represented to have been caused, or at least increased, by a collision 
with a war transport. Orders were immediately given to ascer- 
tain the manner and circumstances of the occurrence. It seemed 
to affect the Army and Navy. A naval court of inquiry and also 
a military court of inquiry were charged with the investigation. 
The naval court has submitted its report, and a copy thereof is 
herewith communicated. The military court is yet engaged. 
So soon as its labors shall have ended the result will be made 
known to your Government. In the mean time, it is assumed that 
the loss of the Florida was a consequence of some unforeseen 
accident which casts no responsibility upon the United States. 
I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to you, sir, the assur- 
ance of my high consideration. 

William H. Seward, 
Secretary of State. 

Commander Napoleon Collins, U. S. Navy, was tried by 
court-martial on the charge, Violating the territorial jurisdic- 
tion of a neutral government. 

Specification. — In this, that on or about the seventh day of 
October, eighteen hundred and sixty-four, the said Commander 
Napoleon Collins, being then in command of the United States 
steamer Wachusett, in the Bay of San Salvador, Brazil, and mani- 
festly within a marine league of the shore at the port of Bahia, in 
said Bay of San Salvador, did unlawfully attack and capture the 
steamer Florida and a portion of her officers and crew within the 
territorial jurisdiction of the Government of Brazil, then and now 
a neutral power. 

Gideon Welles, 
Secretary of the Navy. 

And after full and mature deliberation in the premises the 
court doth find the specifications of the charge proved. 

And the accused having pleaded guilty to the said charge, the 
court doth sentence the accused, the said Commander Napoleon 

396 The Life and Services of 

Collins, of the Navy of the United States, to be dismissed from 
the Navy of the United States of America. 


Rear-Admiral and Senior Member of the Court. 
Commodore H. H. Bell, 
Captain Melancton Smith, 
Captain P. Drayton, 
Captain Thorton A. Jenkins. 
Captain James Alden, 
Commander Thom. G. Corbin. 
Attest : 

Nathan Wilson, 
Judge Advocate. 
U. S. Steamer "Baltimore," 

Washington Navy Yard, April 7, 1865. 

Navy Department, September 17, 1866. 
Sir : The naval general court-martial before which you were 
tried at Washington, D. C, April 5, 1865, found you guilty of 
violating the territorial jurisdiction of a neutral government and 
sentenced you to be dismissed from the Navy of the United States 
of America. 

The sentence of the court is not approved and you will await 
the further orders of the Department. 

Very respectfully, 

Captain N. Collins, U. S. Navy, 
Burlington, N. J. 

G. Welles, 
Secretary Navy. 

No doubt all brave men in and out of the Navy wished 
Captain Collins joy of his seizure. Had he not been afraid to 
meet the Florida in fair fight at sea, he would never have 
resorted to his base action. 

The amende honorable, or firing a salute of twenty-one guns 
to the Brazilian flag, did not take place until July 23, 1866. 



Captain Maffitt becomes a practical farmer — Literary evenings and pursuits 
— Sketch of Raphael Semmes and one of James W. Cooke, and other 
writings— Carolina Yacht Club— Third North Carolina Regiment 
Association — Capt. John M. Kell and Silas Bent — Letters from Captain 
Kell and Rev. T. R. Lambert— Also from Col. E. A. Anderson, Geo. W. 
Alexander, and Lieut. S. Graham Stone, an officer of the Florida- 
Letters from a young midshipman of the Florida and many from 
Admiral Preble — Death of Admiral Preble. 

During his life at The Moorings Captain Maffitt became a 
practical farmer, and all the work of the farm was carried on 
under his superintendence, and flourished. A fine vineyard of 
grapes of different varieties claimed much attention, especially 
the scuppernong grape, which grew to great perfection. A 
fair orchard, also, yielded abundance of peaches, apples, figs 
and pears, while strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries 
grew in luxuriance, and my husband was almost as devoted to 
our flower garden and hot-house as I was, and constructed for 
me several arbors for climbing roses. 

Our evenings were devoted to reading and literary pursuits. 
A sketch of Raphael Semmes was prepared for The South 
Atlantic Magazine by Captain Maffitt, also one of Captain 
James Wallace Cooke, C. S. N., who had commanded the 
Confederate ram Albemarle in the capture of Plymouth, N. C, 
and two articles for The United Service Magazine. He also 
dictated to me a story founded on the war of 1812, 1813 and 
1 8 14, in which he introduced a description of piracy in the 
West Indies furnished from his own experience while in com- 
mand of the U. S. S. Crusader, before the war. This he never 
finished, but left several pages of notes. 

He was never happier than when, the children asleep and all 
quiet for the evening, I could read aloud to him from some 
favored book, and often the wee sma' hours before dawn found 

398 The Life and Services of 

us thus engaged — he pleading for just one more chapter. Our 
friends, especially Admiral Preble, kept us supplied with the 
newspapers and magazines, and thus we were always in touch 
with the outside world. 

In summer our home was always filled with guests, and 
bathing, boating, sailing and rowing, fishing, and the annual 
regatta of the Carolina Yacht Club furnished abundant recrea- 
tion. Admiral A. C. Rhind and his two sisters spent a month 
at The Moorings, and we had the promise of a visit from 
Admiral Preble and his daughter Lily while they were touring 
the South, but they were called north from Savannah, and thus 
were we and they greatly disappointed in being deprived of 
this pleasantly anticipated reunion. 

Captain Mafntt was early made an honorary member of the 
Third North Carolina Regiment of Infantry Association, 
founded February, 1866, and at one of their reunions by request 
he read his paper on Capt. James W. Cooke, which was after- 
ward published in his "Reminiscences of the Confederate 

Among the most valued of his old shipmates and naval 
friends were Capt. John Mcintosh Kell and Mr. Silas Bent. 
Captain Kell and his wife had been peculiarly endeared by the 
circumstances of their close and intimate association of long 
years. They were most congenial correspondents, and Captain 
Kell having been Admiral Semmes's chief executive in both 
the Sumter and Alabama, there were grounds of common 
interest, and I have never found any bonds more close and 
abiding than those between old naval associates, "who," as my 
dear husband has expressed it, "in by-gone days had buffeted 
together in happy unity the storms of old Neptune and hard- 
ships of the sea. The grand and gallant old knights of the 
Navy who inaugurated its reputation and emblazoned its 
history with a halo of glory, left as an heirloom a chivalry of 
brotherhood that purified friendship and exalted its sentiments 
above the factions of life and storms of adversity." 

»* «r. 

Captain John McIntosh Kell 


John Newland Maffitt 399 

One of Captain Kell's letters is now before me and I make 
some extracts from it : 

Sunnyside, January 29. 

My Dear Captain : Your thrice-welcome letter, accompanying 
your handsome little volume the "Nautilus," tog-ether with your 
memorial address on the life and services of Captain James W. 
Cooke, came duly to hand ; for all of which please accept many 
thanks. On your bantling "Nautilus" I will express no opinion 
as yet, further than saying, upon glancing over it, that Mrs. Kell 
suggested at once that it should be read aloud for our evening's 
entertainment. Like yourself my occupation has converted the 
sword into the ploughshare, and our quiet country life, during the 
winter months especially, is passed almost exclusively in our 
home circle, consisting of self, wife, and seven children, four girls 
and three boys. My oldest son, now 18 years of age, enjoys the 
evening reading with us. I construe your fairy bark "Nautilus" 
into the good old ship Constitution, but the personnel, further than 
Paul himself, I cannot decipher, as they figured a few years senior 
to myself ; suffice it to say, it places the old Mediterranean cruises 
so familiar to my senses as almost to rekindle the flame of love and 
admiration for our Navy of the olden time, when etiquette and 
honor, chivalry and daring were the cords that bound us a brother- 
hood of officers daring all for their country and their flag — alas 
how changed ! 

How truly happy the influence of your esteemed wife in 
touching your pen with the fire of poetry and romance while 
narrating the incidents of a cruise, ever famous in our olden time, 
"the Mediterranean" ; please present our household thanks for the 
inspiration, with my most sincere wish that the "call for more" 
from your pen may be responded to, yielding an hundred-fold 
to your material wealth, for these days of impecuniosity bear hard 
upon the energies, and farm life, as you justly say, does not 
accord with the pursuit of literature. 

I remain very sincerely, your friend, 

John McIntosh Kell. 

In another letter Captain Kell writes : 

I have been looking anxiously since the death of our great 
Admiral for a biographical sketch from some able pen to do him 
justice and I thank you for that writing, for my pen was not equal 

400 The Life and Services of 

to the task ; while yours has delineated his eventful career and 
character of adamant with that bold and graphic touch that ages 
cannot obliterate. Your sketch will be embodied in coming history 
when our Confederate cause will receive its just reward and her 
heroes be wreathed with the laurels they have so nobly won. Your 
mention of the last hours of our famous Alabama to the closing 
scene when "gently, calmly, this chivalric King of the sea 
surrendered to the great conqueror — King Death," is highly 
gratifying to me. I cannot close without informing you of the 
great admiration he had for you. I can picture now his smile (he 
never laughed) which lit up every feature when narrating your 
deeds ; especially your entrance and exit from Mobile Bay in the 

Another friend, the Rev. Thomas R. Lambert, wrote us 
frequently and was a valued correspondent and friend until his 
death. The following is from his pen : 

Boston, The Oxford, 
April 14. 1884. 

My Old Friend: I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed 
"Nautilus," loaned to me by Preble. It brings the characters 
right before me — Griffin, Lewis, Anderson, etc. 

I wonder why it is that I have never met with it before. I take 
it to bed with me nights when I can't sleep. Old Hillary is admir- 
ably drawn. I have told the story of the court and the stealing 
of the dough (duff) a hundred times, but I thought it occurred 
on board the United States. "Mr. 'Chinny,' I did not take it." 
touching his hat. "I'll Chinny you, sir." Another, "I didn't 
do it." "Stand up there. Go on, boatswain's mate." . The scene 
as you have told it is perfectly splendid. I wish you could get out 
another edition, and with the fame attached to its author, I believe 
it would sell like wild fire. Preble comes to see me quite often 
and last Saturday we went to our Art Museum, trotting about as 
we used to do in Florence, Naples, and Rome, and fancying our- 
selves young again. I wish I was keeping house that I might 
have a visit from you. Preble is living very nicely and has a 
lovely house only five minutes' ride on the cars from the Oxford. 
Suppose vou come on this summer, and we will renew our youth 
and spin yarns. Do you remember doing the agreeable at a 

John Newland Maffitt 401 

wedding in my room in New Bedford? I have laughed over it 
often. Remember me most kindly to your family. 
Very aff., your old shipmate, 

Thomas R. Lambert. 

The following is an extract from a letter written by Col. 
E. C. Anderson of Savannah, Georgia. He and Captain 
Maffitt entered the United States Navy at the same time, and 
they were ever warm friends. 

Savannah, December 9, 1870. 

Dear John : Yours of the 28th ult. came duly to hand, and 
shortly afterward I received a small package of wedding cake, for 
both of which accept my thanks. It is needless for me to repeat 
again the wish that you may have a smooth passage for the 
remainder of your days, nor to bid you God-speed in the face of 
storms and hurricanes which blow down fences in people's honey- 

From conversations held with navy men I was impressed with 
the idea that the new system at Annapolis does not turn out very 
good seamen, though the system of mental culture is certainly 
very far in advance of anything we had in our time. I spent a 
night and part of a day at the Academy with John Worden — and 
envied the young men the advantages of education which the 
Government now furnishes. Our old ship the Constitution was 
moored alongside the dock, looking so like herself in other years 
that I could not realize the wide gap of interval that yawned 
between the periods, and when I went on board and walked upon 
her gun-deck, my heart swelled with emotions which I could 
hardly control. The surroundings were very nearly the same as 
when day after day and month after month I used to tramp in 
my young manhood over her decks as master's mate of the same. 
How my thoughts came gushing up, calling back scenes and inci- 
dents that had almost passed from memory. I strolled off alone 
for a moment to keep down the tears, which in spite of myself I 
found were rising from my heart to my eyes, and I would have 
given worlds, almost, just to have been left to myself for an hour 
to think over the past and to reflect upon the changes which the 
long years that were dead and gone had brought about. I don't 
know when I have been so saddened as that brief visit made me. 

402 The Life and Services of 

If the spirits of the dead and the living can wander unknowingly 
to us, many an old friend must have been beside me then. 

S|* 5jC 3|C S|C 3|C 3|C 3f! 

E. C. A. 

Colonel Anderson in the above refers to the three years' 
cruise in the old frigate Constitution, related in "Nautilus," 
which he made with Captain Maffitt when they were midship- 
men, and later he as acting master's mate. He was one of the 
characters in "Nautilus." 

As an expression of the good will which all of his old ship- 
mates ever bore my husband I give a few more excerpts. The 
next is from George W. Alexander. 

Baltimore, April 25, 1883. 
Com. J. N. Maffitt. 

Dear Sir : Memory is too active to permit me to be silent, and 
to no scene does memory carry me when I had more enjoyment 
than to old Pensacola, the Crusader and yourself — and whenever 
I think I can ripple your face into a smile of pleasure I take 
pleasure in doing it. 

I received the enclosed this a. m., and I know 'twill do you good 
to hear from one who loves you so well. He would so often talk 
about you and the old play, "Stewart's Triumph." I remember 
old Rictings as well as if it was but last night I saw him in the 
character of the Commodore — those happy days, those happy days. 

I had a letter from Waddell last week ; he is doing well. I 
sent him your "peanut" letter and he enjoyed it. I have laughed 
over it many times. If you come this way I have a first-rate room 
for you in a sweet home, and Susie [his wife] and I would just 
be too delighted to try and make you happy while you tarried, and 
I have a first-rate horse. 

God bless you, sir, and may we all meet on the quarter-deck 
above — eternal in the heavens — when the Great Captain shall 
throw to the breeze 131 — with our distinguishing pennant above it. 

Yrs. truly, 

Geo. W. Alexander. 

I play the "Crusader Waltz" on the old violin almost every day 
for Susie. 

The next letter is from Lieut. S. Graham Stone, whose 
appointment to the Florida as second lieutenant was requested 

John Nevvland Maffitt 403 

by Captain Maffitt after his entrance into Mobile Bay, 1862, 
and with whom he was so favorably impressed. Captain 
Maffitt had written to him for some data to refresh his own 
memory in regard to their cruises in the Florida, and this is 
his answer. It gives a graphic picture of life in Mobile. 
Alabama, immediately after the war, and the reawakening of 
its charming people. 

Mobile, April 22, 1872. 
Capt. J. N. Maffitt. 

Sir : Your letter and enclosed receipt came to hand in due time, 
also the book returned. I can probably answer most of your 
inquiries quite fully by reference to my private journal, and as 
soon as I can get hold of it, will take great pleasure in doing so. 
Mobile is still the hospitable Mobile of "Lang Syne," and growing 
perhaps a little better in that respect. For some time after the 
surrender it seemed that all the people hunted up case-hardened 
shells and occupied themselves reaching out, grabbing everything 
in sight to make themselves comfortable in their retreats. They 
have begun to creep out and feel kindly toward their neighbors 
and to acknowledge, in practice at any rate, such things as social 
links that bind very pleasantly. 

I have heard frequent inquiries after you, as to your where- 
abouts, prospects in life, etc., all showing that you are by no means 
forgotten, as many others are, that were once among the observed 
during the season of war's alarms. At this time of the year I 
am overwhelmed with business, and can snatch an hour only here 
and there for recreation and enjoyment, but I am hoping it will 
not be so very long. Believe me, I will do all in my power to 
assist you. Your "Nautilus" — or rather a copy that I own — has 
been under way for six weeks from the hands of one friend to 
another, and all those that I have heard from were delighted. 
The flogging of the twenty-four witnesses, the "barrel of soft 
soap" exploit, and the story of the "Cuban Belle," all "bring down 
the house," and the "Indian Dance" in Portugal would call the 
author to the foot-lights could he be reached. To-day is Monday 
and one of my busiest of days, so with an an rcvoir sans adieu, 

I am yours, 

S. Graham Stone. 

Among the young and ardent spirits that composed the 
personnel of the Florida was a young man by the name of St. 

404 The Life and Servicf. of 

Clair, spelled Sinclair in Confederate Naval War Records. 
One day in the year 1875 a newspaper, the Jefferson City 
Tribune, reached us, containing an article entitled "Running 
the Blockade," and signed "T." The article gave a very fine 
description of the escape of the Florida from Mobile Bay, and 
Captain Maffitt addressed a letter to the paper asking the name 
of the writer, when shortly afterward he received the following 
answer, adding another to the many interesting incidents of 
the Florida's cruises : 

Jefferson City, Mo., January 27, 1875. 
Capt. J. N. Maffitt, 
Wilmington, N. C. 

Dear Sir : Your letter to the Jefferson City Tribune is before 
me. I take great pleasure in answering it personally. I am glad 
that you consider the article signed "T," entitled "Running the 
Blockade," as a correct and truthful one. I wrote it entirely from 
memory, as I destroyed my journal at the time of our capture in 
the neutral port of Bahia, Brazil. You may not recognize the 
signature at the bottom of this, and for this reason : when I entered 
the service, knowing that a life of adventure was before me, and 
possessed with a boyish freak, such as boys only have, I took a 
different name from my own — the name of George St. Clair, and 
as such you knew me — the Surgeon's steward of the vessel. I 
presume you will remember me. The war over, of course I 
dropped my nom de guerre, and hence address you over the name 
that properly belongs to me. I received my final discharge from 
the service in Liverpool, April, 1865, and went thence to Mexico. 
There I took service under Maximillian, and when the flag of the 
Empire went down in defeat, I came home, graduated at the 
Louisville Law School, but never practiced. I started once to join 
the Cubans, and missed being on the Virginius simply by being a 
little too late. For the past two years I have been on the Tribune 
as editor and assistant editor. It is my brother-in-law's paper and 
he is State printer. So much for personal history, which however 
can hardly interest you. 

As stated before, the sketch about which you inquire was 
written entirely from memory. I have no data whatever, save a 
very good recollection. All of the earlier incidents of the cruise 
I can recall with accuracy. I can recognize a misstatement, 
though probably not able at first to recall the facts of my own 

John Newland Maffitt 405 

volition. During my connection with the press I have felt myself 
called upon frequently, over the signature of "T," to correct many 
misrepresentations concerning our little vessel that crop out in 
Northern papers. I send you one to-day, and trust it is correct. 
I may be astray a day or two as to the exact date we went into 
Havana, but the facts are there and just as I have stated them, 
I think. 

I have always felt sore over the fact that we were so completely 
overslaughed by the exploits of another vessel, and I am deter- 
mined on every occasion where I see an opening, to write up the 
doings of the Florida, and, in my humble way, endeavor to give 
her the prominence she so justly deserves in driving Federal 
commerce from the seas. 

Counting the exploits of Read, and his nineteen men, I think 
that with what was accomplished by the Florida herself, we fairly 
and honestly eclipsed the vaunted exploits of another vessel which 
shall be nameless, but which some people seem to think was the 
only cruiser the Confederacy had on the high seas. There are 
many things I would like to write up, notably our encounter with 
the Ericsson. A very one-sided and malicious account of this 
brush appeared in a New York paper some years ago, and while 
I could simply brand the statement as false in general terms, the 
minor particulars had passed from my mind, and I was not able 
to give such an account as I should" wish. I recollect that the 
Yankee scribbler accused us of firing while the English flag was 
still flying— this you know to be untrue. I intend as occasion and 
opportunity serves to write different sketches from memory of our 
cruises. I may miss date and latitude a little, but the facts will be 
there and I intend to adhere to them. 

* * * * * * * 

Captain, I would be more than proud to hear from you. A letter 
over your own signature would be cherished by me so long as I 
live. My father is a Tennesseean and knew your father person- 
ally and well. He has often spoken of him to me, even before 
I met you on the Florida. I knew my station too well to speak to 
you then, occupying the subordinate position I did, but now that 
the war is over, I trust I may write you, knowing that should we 
ever meet it will be as shipmates. I would like to hear from you, 
and if my memory as to the incidents of our cruise, can be of 
service to you, you are welcome to it. Command me when you 
will — it is all I have to offer. Please address me care of Tribune 
office. Very truly your friend, 

Tennie Mathews, Jr. 

406 The Life and Services of 

In another letter this gentleman writes : 

Dear Captain : I don't know that ever in my life was I more 
rejoiced than on yesterday, when I received your letter and 
accompanying documents. * * * 

I intend to commence on a sketch of the Jacob Bell affair, and 
if I fail to polish off that ungrateful spit-fire [Mrs. Williams] it will 
not be for want of a determined purpose. I am glad you sent me 
her book. Mrs. Williams's vile statements about us I have copied 
and will score her heavy and send the MS. to you for revision. 
I wish very much to print in the Tribune two or three sketches 
from your "Lecture on Blockade Running," and as I would preface 
the sketches with a brief notice of you, how long were you in the 
old Navy? And are not your charts of the Bahama Banks now 
used by the English and American ships ? I wish it was possible 
that I could visit you at Wilmington, and we in conjunction (I as 
your amanuensis while you dictated) could write the history of the 
little craft we all loved so well. I will copy from Preble's Court 
of Inquiry and Mrs. Williams's lying narrative the salient points 
and return both books to you in a few days. The Congressman 
from our district has forwarded me two or three very interesting 
documents from Washington bearing on the Alabama Claims 
question, and I find almost the complete history of the Florida from 
the time she was launched to the time you took charge of her in 
Nassau. I have the American and English sides of the case as 
presented to the Geneva Conference. When I compare the two 
and write, I propose to give the Confederate side. I trust you 
will be pleased with the "Reminiscence." Please give me your 

I am tied down to journalism for the centennial campaign and we 
expect lively times in Missouri. 

The next are from Rear-Admiral George H. Preble. He 
was the most constant and regular correspondent up to the day 
of his death. 

Boston Navy Yard, 

June 27, 1867. 
Dear Maffitt: I would have acknowledged yours of the nth 
sooner had not duty on board and the President's visit added to my 
regular duties kept me very busy. 

I cannot tell you how much I was gratified at receiving your 
letter — the tone of which was so pleasing, as its statements are 

John Newland Maffitt 407 

valuable. I should like to obtain a copy of the letter you addressed 
so long- ago to Mr. Wilson of New York, and if you will give me 
his address I will write for it, or you might write to him to send it 
to me. I imagine he thought I would make some public use of it, 
and he did not, at the time of its receipt, like to acknowledge that 
he was in correspondence with such an arch "rebel" as you were. 

You have this in your favor, that every one captured by you 
spoke of your gentlemanly conduct toward them — and one captain 
whose name I forget, said to me, "Since I had to be captured it was 
a pleasure to be captured by so gentlemanly a fellow." 

I suppose you know that I saw the Florida again at Madeira 
when Morris had her, and followed her to Teneriffe in the old 
St. Louis. If he had chosen he could have caught me in a calm 
and stood off his own distance and made a target of the old 
barkie, but I was prepared to point a gun down the main hatch 
and so sink her, rather than that she should be a trophy for a 

I am sorry to hear of the death of Laurens, whom I esteemed 
from my association with him in 1843 t0 I ^45 on board the 
St. Louis. 

I was glad to hear of Ned Anderson from you and of his being 
mayor of Savannah. The bells must have rung for him as they did 
for Whitington, "Turn Whitington, thrice Lord Mayor of 
London." This I believe is the third time that Ned has been 
mayor of Savannah — and was he not the military governor there 
when I was doing all I could with a naval brigade under Foster's 
division in South Carolina, to assist Sherman to take it from him ? 
When you write give my continued regards. 

I hope with slavery abolished, that ere long our great and 
glorious country, a free and independent people, will be united as 
it never has been before and so continue to the end of all time. 
Excuse this hurried note, but I felt I ought not to longer delay my 
thanks for yours. Truly your friend, 


On May 3, 1868, Admiral Preble wrote: 

I am, my dear fellow, as alive to the misfortunes of the South 
as you are. I would educate the negro to his highest capacity and 
get the most out of him. If after education and discipline he is 
superior to the white race, why then we must take back seats. If, 
as I think, he should prove inferior, then he would fall naturally 
into the place God intended him to fill. He should not have rights 

408 The Life and Services of 

or place in advance of intelligence and education. They should 
both go together. I do not think the wisest course has been 
pursued in reconstruction, but hope to see the States received and 
represented on some basis, or any basis, without delay. Time will 
smooth away all difficulties and the Nation must live as a Nation 
and fulfil its glorious destiny. I believe after all the present 
fluctuations of society and property are settled, as they will be 
eventually, however delayed by opposing political or social 
interests, that the South has a prosperous future before it — and 
that the unity of interests between the New England and Southern 
States will bind them in prosperous intercourse against the all- 
absorbing West. The Southern States with rivers, fine harbors, 
and position, from being agricultural, must become commercial 
and manufactural. 

October 10, 1871, Admiral Preble writes: 

My Dear Maffitt : Yours of the 6th, with a drawing of the 
North Carolina flag* of 1861, came this morning, and this after- 
noon's mail brought me "Nautilus," which I have only had time 
to glance over and see that you revive in it your cruise under old 
Bruin in the Constitution, and return home in the Shark. I shall 
read it with interest, but must ask you for a key to the dramatis 
pcrsonae, some of whom I recognize under their noms de plume, 
but others I do not. 

From the Naval Rendezvous, Boston Navy Yard, November 
20, 1 87 1, Admiral Preble again writes: 

Your "Nautilus" passed through the hands of all my family — 
wife, daughter, and son — and all enjoyed it and laughed at its 
funny stories. I have loaned the book to Stedman, who has it now. 
I thought he would recognize persons and events. The book has 
not been advertised in Boston and I have only seen one copy in one 
of our bookstores, and it has not been placed in any of the circu- 
lating libraries. Your publisher ought to look to this. 

From the Commandant's Office, U. S. Navy Yard, Philadel- 
phia, August, 1875, ne writes : 

*For his book, "History of the American Flag." 

John Newland Maffitt 409 

You have doubtless heard of the sad loss I have experienced 
and have readily excused my not acknowledging sooner your letter 
of the 20th of June. The loss of my friend of 40 and companion 
of 30 years, you can understand what it is to me. * * * * 

The Centennial will be a busy time here, and I shall expect to 
see you some time during the year. These remembrances of the 
Revolutionary times are doing good work in restoring a wholesome 
pride in the Union, both North and South. The celebration in 
Boston on the 17th of June did more to efface sectional bitterness 
than anything since the late "unpleasantness," and checked the 
scheming of many politicians. 

It is proposed to sell this yard immediately and move everything 
to League Island. With that view the Constitution is being 
repaired and the other ships on the stocks being completed for 
launching. As there are and will be no quarters at League Island, 
I propose having the main deck cabin of the old Constitution fitted 
up for my accommodation during the Centennial. 

From Cottage Farms, October, 1878, he writes: 


I am happy to have landed on the retired list in such pleasant 
quarters as these I now occupy — where I shall always be ready to 
welcome my friends. You know what a Southern welcome is and 
means — and I hold that a New England welcome is synonymous. 
When your crop is gathered you must come on here with Mrs. 
Maffitt to make your welcome surer and give us a little visit. 

Again from Cottage Farms, in May, 1880, he writes: 

My Dear Maffitt : On my return from Philadelphia I found 
your long and interesting letter of the nth ult. I thought that 
missionary woman's [Mrs. Williams] book would rile you up and 
stir your blood as it did, for pirates are not insensible — witness 
"The Pirates Of Penzance" now in all our theatres. Of course 
I understood the whole matter — while you were willing to except 
personal baggage and effects from confiscation, you did not design 
that all the curios of China should be exempt, and hence the 
woman's wrath at your spoils of war. 

On February 16, 1882, he writes : 

I read your paper on Blockade-Running, in The United Service 
Magazine for May with great interest, and my son pronounces it 

410 The Life and Service . of 

"first rate." I think you did justice to me and to yourself in vour 
description of the Florida in and out of Mobile Bay. * * * 

The officer who interrupted the spread on board that unfortunate 
blockade-runner at Wilmington was Wm. B. Cushing. He told 
me the story in Washington very much as you have narrated it. 

And in November, 1882, he writes: 

I have recently received letters and photographs from Sir Provo 
Wallis, who is the sole survivor of the Shannon in her action with 
the Chesapeake, 70 years ago next June. He commanded both 
ships after the action and took them into Halifax, his native town, 
and is now an Admiral of the "Fleet" and ninety-two years old. 
His photograph shows him to be still an erect and handsome man 
and his handwriting has no tremor in it. 

I have also had a call from an old sailor, the last survivor of the 
Chesapeake, who is now ninety-three years old. He was married 
two years ago to a girl of nineteen, but they separated in a few 
weeks, and he is now, in addition to his pension of six dollars a 
month, earning his living by peddling his own photograph, 
almanacs, and other small wares. He wrote his autograph in my 
presence without the use of glasses. 

You ought to visit Boston before you die — unless you could see 
the change and the beautiful public and private buildings that have 
gone up and the broad avenues that cross, where, as you remember 
Boston, there was only water — you would be astonished at the 
transformation into the most beautiful city on this continent. 
Very truly your friend, 


One more from this faithful friend, who never ceased his 
attentions in the way of letters, papers, books, etc., as long as 
life lasted. The next is to myself. 

Brookline, Mass., 
January 25, 1885. 
Mrs. J. N. Maffitt. 

My Dear Madam : I was very sorry to learn, as I did through 
your letter of the 5th inst., of my friend, your husband's, sudden 
and alarming illness on Christmas, which I am anxious to learn 
he is now well over, and that Richard, or, rather, "boy John," as 

John Newland Maffitt 411 

Ned Anderson calls him, is himself again. Immediately after 
receiving your letter I took it in to our friend the Rev. Dr. Lambert, 
and read it to him, and he favored me with a part of one you had 
written to him, which greatly relieved my mind. The next day 
he came out and dined with me, as he often does, and we revived 
old times to the amusement of my children, George and Susie, or 
Lily — as we incorrectly translate her name from the Hebrew into 
English, in our household. 

I begin to realize that I am approaching the 7th age of Shake- 
speare. The 25th of next month, D. V., I will be sixty-nine, but 
I am well and as clipper as he was, tell your husband, in the 
Macedonian in 1840, when he tuned his guitar and improvised 
an opera in which Colonel Doyle was a principal character. 

Certainly once a month, and frequently oftener, these letters 
would come to cheer us with their kindly tokens of remem- 
brance, until March 1, 1885, when suddenly this valued friend, 
Rear-Admiral George Henry Preble, passed into the great 
beyond, and left his hosts of friends to mourn his departure. 
In his early life reserved and of a retiring disposition, slow to 
make acquaintances, as the years drew on apace this phase of 
his character seemed to fall from him and the true warmth of 
his genial nature expanded and blossomed. My husband's 
estimate of him was given in his article in The United Service: 
"As an enemy, Preble was consistent and honorable; as a 
friend, faithful and true; even through all the vicissitudes of 
untoward events that erected barriers between old naval asso- 
ciates, who in by-gone days had buffeted together in happy 
unity the storms of Old Neptune and hardships of the sea." 

Admiral Preble was by five years the senior of my husband, 
and had enjoyed the advantages of a college education before 
entering the Navy. Their first association was when Midship- 
man Preble entered the Navy in 1835, and joined the old frigate 
Constitution, on that memorable cruise of three years in the 
Mediterranean. My husband had entered the Navy in 1832, 
at the age of thirteen, and had served on board the St. Louis 
before being ordered to the frigate Constitution. 

412 The Life and Services of 

On Sunday, March i, 1885, at half-past one o'clock a. m., 
Admiral Preble passed away. Our mutual friend, Rev. 
Thomas R. Lambert, wrote us the sad news. He closed his 
account of the last days of this esteemed friend with the words, 
"I loved him very much and he loved you — he seemed very 
near to me." 


Letters from the late President of the Confederacy — Letter from Mrs. 
Davis — Extract from Admiral David D. Porter's, U. S. N., "The Naval 
History of the Civil War"— Tribute to Capt. J. N. Maffitt. 

The letters given below are from the late President of the 
Confederacy, Mr. Jefferson Davis, and one from his wife. 

Beauvoir, Harrison Co., Miss., 

5th May, 1880. 
Capt. Jno. N. Maffitt. 

My Dear Sir : I have vainly endeavored to get any authentic 
information in regard to the doings of our Navy, in which you 
performed so distinguished a part. Mr. Mallory's reports I 
suppose are destroyed, or captured, as I have not been able to find 
them. Will you from memory, or from any papers you may 
happily have preserved, give me such information as you possess, 
as well in regard to cruisers as to captures, and operations for 
harbor defense. 

With best wishes I am, sincerely yours, 

Jefferson Davis. 

The above letter gave us constant occupation for more than 
a month, my husband searching the archives of memory and I 
searching among such documents, letters, and papers, as he 
possessed; besides, he wrote to Lieut. C. W. Read for infor- 
mation, and he kindly sent us his diary, which I copied. 
Captain Maffitt was so modest that he gave greater prom- 
inence to the achievements of Lieutenant Read and said very 
little about his own, for which, when Mr. Davis's book 
appeared, his son Eugene reproached him. Below is given 
Mr. Davis's acknowledgment of the manuscript sent him ; 

414 The Life and Services of 

Beauvoir, Harrison Co., Miss., 

13th June, 1880. 
Capt. John N. Maffitt. 

My Dear Sir : With sincere thanks I acknowledge your kind 
letter of the 10th and the package accompanying it. 

I felt that I was taxing you heavily by my request, but as on 
more memorable occasions, you have exceeded what was to be 
fairly expected of you. 

It has not often been my fate since the war to be met with such 
full and frank answers when I have made inquiries for the purpose 
of defending our cause, and conduct in the effort to maintain it. 
I can realize and appreciate the desire for peace, but do not believe 
that one either lasting or desirable is to be obtained by suppressions 
or concessions inconsistent with self-respect. 

The loss of my official papers at the close of the war, and the 
purloining of my private papers at a later date, have rendered me 
very dependent upon such information as our associates could and 
would give. 

I had no wish to punish for short-comings, any one on our side. 
I had no power to reward my friends, but it was a pleasing pros- 
pect to be able to do justice to those, who had done well, and if the 
contrast should gall some who had failed properly to sustain our 
cause, the misfortune was mine as well as theirs. 

Mrs. Davis is very thankful to you for your kind remembrance 
of her and for the token from the sea, which she has not forgotten 
is not the first you have sent to her, but has herself written to 
acknowledge the "Nautilus," and now unites with me in the tender 
of our best wishes to you and yours. 

Ever faithfully your friend, 

Jefferson Davis. 

The next is from Mrs. Davis : 

Beauvoir, Harrison Co., Miss., 

June 12. 1880. 
Dear Captain Maffitt: Your clever "Nautilus" has served 
most pleasantly to help "passer le temps" for me, and I sailed away 
with you in the steerage and enjoyed the travel very much, always 
wondering which one of the maskers you were. 

There is a gentleman here, Judge Tenney of New York City, 
the compiler of Appleton's Annual Encyclopedia, who was your 

John Newland Maffitt 415 

instructor when you were a midshipman, and he sailed with you in 
one of the first steamships that our Navy sent out. He remembers 
you with affectionate regard. 

The shawl that you were so kind as to send me during the 
Confederacy is splendid as ever and I feel very proud of it, since 
it is a constant reminder to me of the achievements of our clear 
little Navy. Surely no Navy ever did so much against such odds. 
What Nelsons and Bonapartes peace has developed — and the 
strategists and fighters of the war have subsided into mute 
inglorious scholars before these self-asserting latter-day heroes. 
If we had all found ourselves rich at the close of the war, we 
might have borne our reverses better. 

I trust that if you and Mrs. Maffitt should come to New Orleans 
you will pay us a visit. No one will welcome you more warmly 
than Yours sincerely, 

Varina Davis. 

The last letter from Mr. Davis : 

Beauvoir, Harrison Co., Miss., 

7th July, 1881. 
Capt. J. N. Maffitt. 

My Dear Sir : With many thanks for your kindness, I return 
by express the MS. on Blockade-Running and the magazines con- 
taining- your first and second article on Admiral Semmes. 

Circumstances which it would only be wearisome to relate inter- 
fered with my compilation of events both on land and sea, and 
many things were therefore omitted which even in the brief space 
of two volumes I might have noticed. 

The greater ability of actors to give full information of military 
events, deterred me from proposing to more than make a passing 
reference by which I originally expected to reserve most of the 
space for the vindication of our cause, and the exposure of the 
want of any constitutional foundation for the claim of the Federal 
Government to make war upon us. I hope you will find the book 
which the publishers will send you written in the spirit which you 
can approve. I have like yourself had an abiding faith in the 
power of truth, but the odds just now against us are greater than 
those against which we contended during the war. I saw the 
other day in the Philadelphia Times a long article announced to be 
by W. C. Howard, late of the Confederate steamer Alabama. I 
have looked at the list of Semmes's officers and there is no such 
name on it. The spirit in which he writes shows that he was not 

416 The Life and Services of 

a Confederate and his remark in regard to St. Clair convinces me 
that he was not on the Alabama. It is a tissue of falsehood and 
malevolent abuse, yet will probably be copied and quoted as on the 
authority of one of our own men. Admiral Semmes mentions a 
purser who deserted and joined the enemy and as also having 
committed other base frauds and crimes. He does not name that 
purser and I should not wonder if he was the false witness who 
appears in the Times of the 2d inst. Your son, if he is near you, 
could probably tell. 

I hope this summer to be able to go for my daughter, who has 
been some years at school in Europe, but my movements, as is 
usually the case with Confederates, depend upon whether I can 
make the money arrangements to do so. I am living at a very 
retired place about half way between New Orleans and Mobile, 
with a railroad way station just back of our house. My wife and 
I would be very glad to see you and to enjoy the greatest pleasure 
which is left us, conversation with the few men who have neither 
fainted under privation nor been caught by glittering baits. 

With sincere regard, in which Mrs. Davis unites, I am 
Your friend, 

Jefferson Davis. 

My attention has been called recently by a friend* to Admiral 
David D. Porter's (U. S. N.) mention of Captain Maffitt in 
his work, "The Naval History of the Civil War," and he 
has urged his request for its insertion in this "Life." I had 
not before seen this work, but easily found it in the Astor 
Library, New York. 

In "The Naval History of the Civil W 7 ar," by Admiral 
David D. Porter, U. S. N., pages 623-627, he writes : 

The Oreto, of which Commander Maffitt had charge, was quite 
swift, but not so formidable a vessel as the "290." She had left 
England unarmed, but with all the arrangements made to mount 
guns, and with all the appliances below to stow powder and shell. 
After a long trial she was released by the British authorities and 
Maffitt again prepared to put her in fighting trim. This vessel 
was afterward known as the Florida, and though she did not equal 
the Alabama she made herself sufficiently famous to give the 
Federal Government a great deal of trouble and cause it to put 
forth all its energies for her capture. 

*Mr. James Sprunt. 

John Newland Maffitt 417 

MafBtt was a different kind of man from Semmes. A thorough 
master of his profession and possessed of all the qualities that 
make a favorite naval commander, he became a successful raider 
of the sea ; but he made no enemies among those officers who had 
once known him and who now missed his genial humor in their 
messes. He was a veritable rover, but never inhuman to those 
whom the fortunes of war threw into his hands, and he made 
himself as pleasant while emptying a ship of her cargo and then 
scuttling her, as Claud Duval when robbing a man of his purse or 
borrowing his watch from his pocket. After Maffitt's vessel was 
released from the Court of Nassau (the trial having proved a 
farce), he made arrangements to mount her guns and man her 
'from the motley crew of sailors that floated about the town ready 
for any kind of work that might offer. 

* * * * * * * 

The vessel loaded with the Oreto's guns and stores had arrived 
while her case was before the court at Nassau. * * * Maffitt 
was too clever to actually violate English neutrality laws by any 
overt act. He made arrangements with J. B. Lafitte, the Con- 
federate agent at Nassau, to meet him at Grand Key, where the 
guns were to be delivered by a schooner chartered for that purpose. 
The meeting took place and Maffitt succeeded in arming his ship, 
but was obliged to trust to recruiting his crew from such dis- 
affected Americans as might elect to join him from captured 
vessels. He had at this time but five men and fourteen deck 
hands. So short-handed was he, that when he met the schooner 
with his battery on board, he had to take off his coat and work like 
a common sailor. Every hour was precious to him, for the 
Federal cruisers hovering in the neighborhood might pounce upon 
him at any moment. The work was especially laborious under the 
searching rays of an August sun, and it almost exhausted the 
energies of all hands ; but at the end of five days the Oreto had 
all her stores and guns on board, and Captain Maffitt steamed out 
upon the ocean and put his ship in commission. The British flag 
which she had worn since her departure from England, was hauled 
down, and the Confederate ensign hoisted amid the cheers of her 
motley crew. The ship was christened the Florida. 

All this looked very much like the ways of the buccaneers, who, 
in years gone by, used to meet at these rendezvous, and prepare 
for raids on harmless merchantmen and their helpless passengers ; 
but these people were pirates in every sense of the word — ignorant, 
cold-blooded, brutal men, who had no nationality and not educa- 
tion enough to teach them right from wrong. The Florida;, 

418 The Life and Services of 

however, was not a pirate. It had been declared by the most 
civilized and Christian nation on the face of the earth, followed 
by France, that these vessels were belligerents, and entitled to all 
belligerent rights. * * * 

The work of getting the guns on board the Ore to had been so 
severe in that burning climate that it produced sickness among her 
crew. The captain's steward was buried on the day the cruiser 
went into commission, and on investigation it appeared that he 
had died of yellow fever. The constantly increasing sick list con- 
firmed this opinion. There was no surgeon on board and the 
captain was compelled to assume all the duties of medical officer 
as well as his own. 

On the fifth day out the Florida found herself off the little island 
of Anguila, and by report of the hospital steward the epidemic had 
reduced the working force to one fireman and four deck 
hands. * * * 

When Maffitt arrived in Havana he found himself so tied up 
with restrictions imposed by the Spanish authorities, that he deter- 
mined to go to Mobile and fit his ship out there. 

He therefore got underway for that port on the ist of September, 
and arrived in sight of Fort Morgan on the 4th, having started on 
his perilous adventure with his crew just convalescing, and he 
himself scarcely able to stand from the prostrating effects of the 

It may appear to the reader that we have exhibited more 
sympathy for Commander Maffitt and given him more credit than 
he deserved ; it must be remembered that we are endeavoring to 
write a naval history of the war, and not a partisan work. This 
officer, it is true, had gone from under the flag we venerate to 
fight against it; but we know that it was a sore trial for him to 
leave the service to which he was attached and that he believed 
he was doing his duty in following the fortunes of his State, and 
had the courage to follow his convictions. He did not leave the 
United States Navy with any bitterness and when the troubles 
were all over he accepted the situation gracefully. What we are 
going to state of him shows that he was capable of the greatest 
heroism, and that, though he was on the side of the enemy, his 
courage and skill were worthy of praise. 

On the 4th of September, at 2 p. m., the Florida made Fort 
Morgan, and at the same time it was discovered that three of the 
enemy's cruisers lay between her and the bar. Maffitt was 
assisted on deck, being too sick to move without help. He deter- 
mined to run the risk of passing the blockaders ; and if he failed in 

John Newland Maffitt 419 

that, he made his preparations to destroy his vessel Sc- that she 
might not fall into the enemy's hands. He hoisted the English 
ensign, and assumed the character of an English ship-of-war. 
The moment the Florida was seen by the blockaders, as she stood 
boldly in, two of these vessels got underway and stood toward 
her. The blockading force was at this time under the command 
of Commander George H. Preble, in the Oneida, a prudent, careful 
officer, who tried hard not to commit any mistakes, but on this 
occasion he was too careful not to compromise his Government by 
attacking an English man-of-war, as he supposed the Florida was, 
from the bold manner in which she stood toward him. 

Several gunboats had been employed blockading outside the 
bar, the Kanawha, Pinola and Kennebec, and the steam frigate 
Susquehanna had also been there, but all these vessels had been 
temporarily withdrawn for other duty. The Oneida had been 
making repairs on her boilers and the Winona was the only other 
vessel actually on the blockade at that moment. The Oneida was 
one of the fine ships built at the beginning of the war, and was 
supposed to be a 12-knot vessel. Her armament consisted of two 
1 1 -inch Dahlgrens (one forward and the other aft), four 
32-pounders and three Dahlgren 30-pounder rifles. The Winona 
carried one 11 -inch Dahlgren pivot-gun (forward) and two 
32-pounders; and the schooner Rachel Seaman (bomb vessel), 
which happened to be beating up the bar at the time, carried two 
32-pounders. The Oneida, owing to repairs that were going on, 
could not carry a full press of steam, and may be said to have been 
caught napping. 

Commander Maffitt could not have chosen a more auspicious 
time to attempt his daring feat, though be it said to his credit, he 
had made up his mind to run through the whole blockading fleet 
if necessary. It was his last chance, he had only to do that or run 
his vessel on shore and burn her, for she was of no use to the 
Confederates in her then condition. 

As soon as Maffitt discovered the Federal vessels, he stood 
directly for them, knowing that as the Florida resembled an 
English gunboat, she would probably be mistaken for one, and 
trusting to his speed to save him at the last moment. Intelligence 
had been received at Pensacola, the headquarters of the squadron, 
of the Florida's having left Nassau ; but no news of her having 
left Cardenas had followed ; and for some reason no news had 
been sent to the fleet off Mobile that she was on a cruise. 

Commander Preble ran out to meet the supposed Englishman, 
and rounded to go in with him on the same course. The Florida 

420 The Life and Services of 

approached rapidly, her smoke-pipes vomiting forth volumes of 
black smoke and a high press of steam escaping from her steam- 
pipe. As she came within hailingdistance, the Federal commander 
ordered her to heave to, but Maffitt still sped on, having sent all 
his men below, except the man at the wheel, and returned no reply 
to the hail. Preble then fired a shot ahead of the Florida, still 
supposing her to be some saucy Englishman disposed to try what 
liberties he could take, though the absence of men on deck should 
have excited suspicion. He hesitated, however, and his hesita- 
tion lost him a prize and the honor of capturing one of the Confed- 
erate scourges of the ocean. Preble had his crew at quarters, 
however, and as soon as he saw that the stranger was passing him 
he opened his broadside upon her and the other two blockaders 
did the same. But the first shots were aimed too high and the 
Florida sped on toward the bar, her feeble crew forgetting their 
sickness and heaping coal upon the furnace fires with all possible 
rapidity. Every man was working for his life, while the captain 
stood amid the storm of shot and shell perfectly unmoved, keenly 
watching the marks for entering the port, and wondering to 
himself what his chances were for getting safely in. 

The first broadside of the Oneida, which was fired from a 
distance of a few yards only, cut away the Florida's hammocks, 
smashed her boats, and shattered some of her spars. The shock 
seemed to give a new impetus to her speed, the English colors 
were hauled down and an attempt was made to hoist the Confed- 
erate flag in their place, but the man who was bending it to the 
halyards had his fingers shot away and it was not run up while 
under fire. 

The Winona now opened on the chase with her heavy guns, as 
did also the Rachel Seaman with her 32-pounders, but the latter 
vessel was at a distance and her fire was of little effect. The 
Oneida fired rapidly from all the guns she could bring to bear ; but 
as she could not make more than seven knots an hour, the Florida 
was rapidly leaving her. One 11 -inch shell entered the side of 
the blockade-runner just above the water line, passed through 
both sides and exploded. Had it exploded one second sooner the 
career of the Florida would have ended and she would have gone 
to the bottom ; but an inch or two saved her. On she sped faster 
and faster, until even those who longed for her discomfiture could 
not but admire the steady bearing of the brave man who stood 
alone upon the deck. Another shell passed through the cabin, 
and her after spars began to tremble as their supports were cut 
away. * * * 

John Newland Maffitt 421 

During the whole war there was not a more exciting adventure 
than this escape of the Florida into Mobile Bay. The gallant 
manner in which it was conducted excited great admiration, even 
among the men who were responsible for permitting it. We do 
not suppose there was ever a man, under all the attending circum- 
stances, displayed more energy or more bravery. 

The Florida remained four months in Mobile preparing for 
sea, and watching a chance to get out. The blockading squadron 
had been enlarged to seven vessels, among them the R. R. Cuyler, 
a very fast steamer, that had been sent to this station with the 
certainty that she would be able to intercept the Florida if she 
attempted to run out. 

Maffitt came down from Mobile one afternoon in the Florida 
and noted the number and positions of the blockaders while he 
was plainly visible to them. The Federal commanders had been 
in a continual state of vigilance for three months, and it was a 
great relief to them to see the coveted prize at last. * * * 

At about 2 a. m., the Florida was reported as coming out. She 
passed directly between the Cuyler and Susquehanna at a distance 
of 300 yards from the former. * * * 

And so the Florida was allowed to go on her way without 
molestation and Maffitt was enabled to commence that career on 
the high seas which has made his name one of the notable ones of 
the war. He lighted the seas wherever he passed along, and 
committed such havoc among American merchantmen that, if 
possible, he was even more dreaded than Semmes. We have only 
to say, that his being permitted to escape into Mobile Bay, and 
then to get out again, was the greatest example of blundering 
committed throughout the war. 

Every officer who knew Maffitt was certain that he would 
attempt to get out of Mobile, and we are forced to say that those 
who permitted his escape are responsible for the terrible conse- 
quences of their want of vigilance and energy. 

It is stated that half an hour was lost in the Cuyler's getting 
under way owing to a regulation of the ship that the officer of the 
watch should report to the captain and wait for him to come on 
deck before slipping the cable (in this instance it would have been 
well if the captain had slept on deck). 

The Oneida's officers saw the signal, beat to quarters, but 
remained at anchor, though she was assigned as one of the chasing 
vessels ; and at 3.30, having seen no vessel run out, beat the retreat. 
Such is the extract from her log. 

422 The Life and Services of 

The Cuylcr's officers, however, saw the Florida distinctly, and 
chased her during the whole of the next day, making as her 
greatest speed during the chase only 12^4 knots, although she had 
previously made 14. At night the Florida changed her course 
and ran for the coast of Cuba, where she was engaged in burning 
prizes the next day whiL the Cnylcr was hunting her in the 
Yucatan Channel. , 


Refusal of President Cleveland to confirm the nomination of Captain 
Maffitt to a position in the Custom House — Effect of this disappoint- 
ment — Death of his children, "Florie" and Eugene A. Maffitt — Last 
days — Comments, notices, and tribute of Admiral George Dewey. 

Upon the election of Cleveland to the Presidency of the 
United States in 1884 the friends of Captain Maffitt unani- 
mously nominated him for a position in the Custom House 
at Wilmington. It had become necessary for us to remove to 
Wilmington for the purpose of educating our young children, 
and we secured a cottage there, of which we took possession 
in July, 1885. Captain Maffitt had been quite ill in the early 
spring, but the prospect of obtaining congenial employment 
had greatly cheered him and he rallied. When Cleveland 
refused to confirm his nomination the disappointment was a 
great shock, and although he made a brave effort to bear up 
and hope for better days, the disease (Bright's) with which 
he was suffering rapidly developed, and both mind and body 
sank under it. 

For three months he was under the care of a specialist, at 
a sanitarium, but so rapidly did his strength fail that I brought 
him home, where his last days were cheered by the devoted 
attention of his many friends. 

Not one thought of self ever crossed his mind. He lived 
for his family and friends, and when he could entertain the 
latter with open-handed liberality he was happy. 

During his last illness he repeated the following lines with. 
a pathos that was overwhelming to those who heard them : 

"Whether sailor or not, for a moment avast! 
Poor Jack's mizzentopsail is hove to the mast ; 
He's now all a wreck, nor will sail shoot ahead ; 
His cruise is done up : he'll no more heave the lead. 

424 The Life and Services of 

"With his frame a mere hulk 
And his reckoning on board, 
At length he drops down to mortality's road. 

With eternity's ocean before him in view, 
Jack cheerfully pipes out, 

'My mess-mates, adieu.' 

■"Secured in his hammock 
He is moored in the grave. 

Nor hears any more the loud roar of the wave. 
Pressed by death, he is sent to the tender below, 
Where seaman and lubber must every one go. 

"Though the worms gnaw his timbers, 
His hulk a mere wreck, 
When he hears the last whistle 
He'll jump up on deck." 

And only a few days before his demise, his mind wandering 
back to other scenes and other times, he said, "The ship is 
ready, the sails are set and the wind is favorable; all we are 
waiting for is Mr. Lambert* to come and ask God's blessing 
upon us; then we will heave anchor and away on the billows." 
During his illness his mind frequently reverted to his distin- 
guished and noble father. On one occasion he inquired if 
his father had come. When informed that he had not, he 
said, "Well, he will be here in a day or two, and when he 
does come he will keep us all busy," alluding to the crowds 
that they would have to entertain. Then he said, "He is to 
preach at the New Market and we must be on time if we are 
to get seats." 

He passed from the sphere of his earthly activities on Sat- 
urday afternoon, May 15, 1886. 

From one of the obituary notices of him in a local paper I 
take this paragraph : 

Thus, one by one, like the leaves of the flowers that fade and 
fall, these reminders of the "lost cause" pass from the stage of 
action to join the "silent majority"; and of all brave, daring men 
who so gloriously illustrated, on land and sea, what a liberty- 
loving people can accomplish when contending for the right, none 

♦Chaplain of several U. S. frigates on which Captain Maffitt had sailed. 

John Newland Maffitt 425 

were braver and truer than the gallant gentleman who was 
yesterday laid to rest in beautiful Oakdale and whom we admired 
living and mourn dead. Peace to his ashes, honor and tears to 
his memory, for a brave, chivalrous people will not soon forget 
this veritable child of the seas and man of the billows. 

On the 28th of September, 1883, a ^ ter a sudden desperate 
illness his daughter Florie, beloved of his heart, had succumbed 
to organic heart trouble and passed away. I wish I could 
paint for you the life of unselfish devotion of this brave 
woman. While in attendance at her dying bed Captain Maffitt 
was taken with a severe hemorrhage of blood from the nose 
and this was with difficulty staunched by the efforts of the 
attending physician, but he never entirely recovered from its 
prostrating effects. 

On January 12, 1886, his son Eugene Maffitt, after weeks 
of suffering, died. Some unknown friend of his early boy- 
hood thus wrote of him : 

From his early years the writer knew well the subject of this 
notice, and feels with emotions of keen regret that death has stilled 
the throbbings of a true, brave heart. The generous, intrepid boy 
who, amid the musty volumes of the old family library, felt his 
imagination fired and his whole being thrilled at the recital of the 
deeds of the good and great — the "Chevalier without fear and 
without reproach" ; Sir Launcelot the leal and true ; the spotless 
chivalry of the heroic age — expanded into the magnanimous 
youth who, glowing with a love of country, took his place with 
glad enthusiasm by the side of the stern warrior Semmes, the 
commander of the famous cruiser Alabama, and developed into 
that matured manhood which faltered not in devotion to duty 
through every peril until the end came. Fighting bravely at the 
battle of Port Royal until the fall of the fort, he soon afterward 
joined Captain Semmes, and served as a midshipman on the 
Alabama until the vessel sank, and the crew, abandoned to their 
fate, were rescued by the yacht Decrhound. 

Thus blow following blow upon his devoted head, even his 
iron frame, that had so long withstood the onslaughts of 

426 The Life and Services of 

destiny, succumbed at last, and heart and brain yielded to the 
inevitable, and he sank to rest as a child in the arms of its 

At an age — thirteen — at which most boys are either pursu- 
ing their studies or engaged in field sports and pastimes, this 
lad had assumed the responsibilities and duties of an officer 
of the United States Navy and was subjected to the exacting 
discipline and restraints of the old regime. At no call of his 
life can I find that he was unable to meet new duties, unex- 
pected dangers or unforeseen circumstances ; however great the 
demand upon his resources of intelligence or physical ability, 
each and all, according to the testimony of friends and foes, 
were met with cheerful alacrity and ingenious sagacity. 
Rebuffs and disappointments were ever ready to spring up and 
obstruct his path and deprive him of the reward of his devotion 
to duty and the fruition of his hopes. How keenly he must 
have felt the action of that "Retiring Board," which would 
fain have closed the door of hope upon him while he was in 
the midst of his proudest work — surveying the dangerous 
coast of the Atlantic — how cruel and unpardonable his abrupt 
dismissal by the Secretary of the Confederate Navy, after his 
crowning effort to fulfil the charge entrusted to him and bring 
the Florida safely into the Confederacy for necessary equip- 
ment, yet how cheerfully on being reinstated by the action of 
the President, he resumed command and redoubled, if possible, 
his exertions in behalf of the cause, turning his back upon his 
detractors, of whose unkind criticisms he was fully aware, and 
never relaxing his vigilance during the whole period of the 
war. Is it any wonder that on his entrance to the harbor of 
Brest his sorely tried heart demanded a period of rest and 
relaxation ere it was again subjected to the turmoil of strife 
and unceasing anxiety? 

When in charge of his last command, the Ozvl, at the close 
of the war, he made every attempt possible to reach the 
Confederacy with his much-needed cargo. Wilmington, 
Charleston, Galveston were each tried in turn, and even then 

John Newland Maffitt 427 

he returned to Havana and thence to Halifax, in the hope of 
finding some means of escape through the cordon of the 
enemy's lines, ere he carried out his last instructions from his 
Government, and sailing for England resigned his charge to 
Frazier, Trenholm & Co. 

With the same loyal spirit he ever met the trials and 
demands of his later life. "Keep a stiff upper lip and never 
say die" was his motto. When our home caught fire he was 
on the roof at once pouring buckets of water, which he alwavs 
kept filled for such an emergency, upon the flames and beating 
them down before help could reach him ; and, oh, what a 
tender and gentle nurse in times of sickness ! No event, 
however distressing, caused him to murmur, and if such rose 
to my lips, a loving word or embrace, checked its expression. 
Calls for help from the humble fishermen and neighbors, in 
times of sickness and trouble, were always answered, and he 
was never a hard taskmaster to his employees on the farm, 
although he exacted due vigilance in the performance of their 

May the rest and peace which were denied him on earth 
be his happy portion now, and the reward, "Well done, good 
and faithful servant," be his "in the place of departed spirits," 
where the strife of life is over. 

"Let fate do her worst, there are moments of bliss, 
There are relics of joy, she can never destroy." 

Two years ago, in 1904, while a delegate to the biennial 
council of The Colonial Dames of America, I attended a 
reception given the Dames by Mrs. John R. McLean, in 
which they were invited to meet Admiral and Mrs. George 
Dewey. When I was introduced to Admiral Dewey he caught 
my hand and impulsively exclaimed, "John Maffitt, my dear 
friend, the elite of the Navy, the bravest of the brave!" It 
was a great tribute from a great man, and deeply as I appre- 
ciated it, I could not trust myself to make any fitting response. 
Those around said, "Why, you have met a friend." Indeed 

428 John Newland Maffitt 

I had, for to hear such spontaneous praise of my heart's dearest 
treasure was the highest expression of friendship, and more 
so as so many years had elapsed since my husband had passed 
from my sight. 

One more tribute from a dear friend, who proved our great- 
est comfort in our darkest day of affliction. It is from Mr. 
Silas Bent, of St. Louis, Mo., formerly a lieutenant, U. S. 
Navy, and is dated : 

Karlsbad, Bohemia, Austria, July 15, 1886. 
My Dear Mrs. Maffitt: * * * When in Liverpool 
Captain Bulloch told me he had received a New York paper con- 
taining a (marked) notice of your dear husband's death. I was 
therefore prepared for your letter and was so thankful when I 
read what you said about his receipt of my letter to him, that I 
had written it just when I did, and in such terms too as to have 
given him a moment's happiness as the gloom of death was 
closing in upon him. My dear, dear friend ! I loved him greatly, 
as I am sure he did me also. He had a generous, noble heart, 
and was never so happy as when conferring happiness upon others. 
There was less of selfishness about him than of any other person 
I ever knew, and his genial cheerfulness carried sunshine for all 
wherever he went, whilst his bright intelligence, his ready wit 
and overflowing humor, made him the most attractive, lovable 
man I ever saw. His magnetism was irresistible and his memory 
will be most lovingly cherished by all his old friends of the Navy 
who survive him. * * * Ever believe me, sincerely your 

Silas Bent. 


Alabama, C. S. S. . .239, 265, 285, 286, 295, 344, 389, 393, 398, 400, 406, 416, 425 

Albemarle, C. S. Ram 336, 337, 338, 339, 340, 397 

Alexander, G. W., letter from 402 

Anderson, E. C, Hon., late C. S. N 161, 401, 402 

Aulick, J. H., Commodore, U. S. N 168 

Averett, S. W., Lieutenant, C. S. N 259, 281, 282, 284, 287, 288, 309, 310 

Bache, A. D., Prof., Superintendent U. S. Coast Survey 58 

Testimony (see reports of) 161-164 

Baker, L. S., Brig.-Gen., C. S. A., communication of 337 

Ball, Mrs 22 

Barney, Joseph N., Lieutenant, C. S. N 265, 266, 322, 383 

Barrett, Dr 250, 256, 258 

Barron, J. W., letter of 385 

Benham, A. K., Lieutenant, U. S. N., officer U. S. S. Crusader 215 

Bent, Silas, Lieutenant, U. S. N 180 

Letter 428 

Bibb, U. S. schooner 65, 66, 68, 74 

Black, Jeremiah, Judge 205 

Blake, George S., Captain, U. S. N., testimony 183 

Blockade-running, description of by Capt. J. N. Maffitt 228-237 

Bogota, slaver, captured by U. S. S. Crusader 212 

Bolles, Chas. P, Lieutenant, U. S. N. and C. S. A 85, 86, 87 

Bourne, First I. T., C. S. Agt 305 

Bradford, Otey, Lieutenant, C. S. N 285 

Braine, D. L, Lieutenant, U. S. N 187, 189 

Brazil, protest of 338-392 

Amende honorable to 396 

Breckinridge, J. C, Hon., letter of 355 

Bremontier, bark (French), Brest, France 312-327 

Bridgetown, Barbadoes 276-278 

Brooklyn Navy Yard 268 

Brown, John, Captain, brig Estclle, statement of 271 

Brown, J. B., Asst. Eng., C. S. S. Florida 288 

Bryan, George D., Act. Master, C. S. S. Florida 281 

Report of 3°4 

Buchanan, Franklin, Admiral. C. S. N., letters 256, 260. 266 

Bulloch, J. D., Commander, C. S. N 238 

Calder, Samuel, Judge 29 

Calder, Samuel 29 

"Carrieville," home on James River 204 

Carnic, Ann 30 

Carnes, Ed. O., U. S. N 85, 86, 182 

Ceara 297 

Cecile, C. S. S., blockade-runner 228 

Chandler, Ralph, Lieutenant, U. S. N 185, 186 

430 INDEX 


Charleston, S. C 75, 349 

Cleveland, Grover 423 

Collins, Napoleon, report of 286, 287 

Tried, sentenced 395, 396 

Colhoun, John, Commander, U. S. N 196 

Cook, J. W., Lieutenant, U. S. N 196, 197 

Coosa whatchie, S. C, headquarters Gen. Robert E. Lee 225, 226 

Constitution, U. S. frigate "Old Ironsides," visit of King and Queen 

of Greece to 32, 34, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40 

Court of Inquiry 383, 387, 388 

Craven, Tunis A. M., Lieutenant, U. S. N 100, 102, 148, 217 

Crusader, U. S. sloop-of-war 206, 209, 210, 211, 214, 215, 216 

Cuba, or Hornet, steamer, incidents in regards to. 263, 264, 267, 274, 375, 376 

Cushman, Chas. H., Lieutenant, U. S. N., testimony 193-196 

Davidson, Hunter, Act. Master, U. S. N 122, 125 

Davis, Jefferson, Mr 220, 223 

Letters of 266, 306, 319, 357, 413, 415 

De Krafft, J. C. P., Lieutenant, U. S. N 85. 

De Videky, L., letter to Lieut. C. H. Morris, C. S. N 385, 386 

Dewey, George, Admiral U. S. Navy 427, 428 

Diana, C. S. gunboat 350 

Dobbin, J. C, Hon. Secretary U. S. Navy 146, 154, 167, 168, 150 

Dolphin, U. S. brig, captures slaver Echo 199, 202 

Du Belley, Paul, Judge, narrative of events in regard to the C. S. S. 

Florida's advent at Brest, France 312-320 

Dueling, sad results of ; death of young officer 41-44 

Duncan, James M., First Lieut. U. S. S. Crusader 212, 213, 215 

Duncan, James, of C. S. S. Florida 253 

Dunn, Ed. T., Purser, U. S. N., testimony 150 

Du Pont, S. F, Rear-Admiral, U. S. N., attack upon fleet of Com- 
modore Tatnall at Port Royal 223, 224 

Dyke, Jas. H., C. S. N., Midshipman, C. S. S. Florida. . . .259, 281, 282, 284 

Echo, slaver (see Crusader) 199, 202 

Edwards, W. S., U. S. N 186, 187 

"Ellerslie," home of Maffitt 30, 99, 205 

Elliot, Jesse D., Commodore, U. S. N., commander of Mediterranean 

squadron flag-ship Constitution 34, 35 

"Bruin the Bear" (see Constitution) 40, 44 

Ericsson, U. S. S., fired upon by C. S. S. Florida 299, 301 

Mentioned 307, 405 

Fernando de Noronha 285, 286, 287 

"Florie" (Maffitt) 238, 240 

243, 246, 261, 262, 266, 267, 343, 344, 355, 356, 357, 360 

Sad passing away of 425 

Florie, C. S. S., blockade-runner 328, 330, 331, 335, 385 

Florida, C. S. S., arrives at Nassau under cognomen of Orcto, is seized, 

tried, and released 238, 239 

At Green Key — guns and ammunition put on board, English flag 

hauled down and Confederate banner raised 238, 239 

241, 245, 246, 247, 248, 249, 250, 251 
Sails for Mobile; meets blockading squadron; escapes and anchors 
under guns of Fort Morgan 252-268 



Flotida Page 

Sails from Mobile Bay; discovered by fleet and chased; passes 

the Brooklyn and Cuyler; escapes 2 6g 

Enters Havana * 

Sails for New England shores, but is' driven by 'storm across Gulf ' 


Arrives at Bridgetown, Barbadoes 276 277 

Captures Aldebaran ' ^ Q 

Anglo-Saxon 30Q ' V?6 %ax 

Benjamine Hoxic (see note about silver bars) ... .298, 200 {00 £n 

Clarence J ^ ° "£gl 

Commonwealth '.'.'.'.'. 28- 

Corris Ann ' 272 

Crown Point ' 

Esteik :::::::::::: s? 

Francis B. Cutting ' 

Henrietta ^Q r 

Hope 2b5 

huh :..: 309 

^obBeu ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::;;;^i f 7 \ 

Lapwing oST 

m. j. cokord ; ; ; ; ; ;x 

Oneida 2 8^ 

Red Gauntlet ^ 

Riensie r/ 

Star of Peace .'.'.'''.'.''.'.'.'.'.'.'.'.'.'.'.'.'.'.'.'." 270 

Southern Cross Jr 

Southern Rights ■{/■> 

Sunrise ^ 

V. H. Hill 3° J 

w. b. Nash ....!;.'.'.".'.'.'.':.'.".:::;;;;: S 

Windward 270 

Sails for Ceara 2Q7 

Encounters Ericsson and opens upon her with starboard broadside' 101 

Arrives at St. Georges, salutes fort and salute is returned 301 %oa 
Engineers report necessity for repairs ; lands Lieutenant Averett at 

Cork on mission to Minister Siidell -, OQ 

Arrives at Port of Brest "" ^o 

"An English Visit to the Florida" ,~V \v, 

Floyd, R. S„ Act. Master If' fZ 

Forrest, D. A., Lieutenant, C. S. N '. °J* 

Fort Fisher " _" ' ' "''' " " ' " ^ g 

Fort Warren, Boston-Midshipmen E. A. Maffitt and Jefferson 1 Howell 

imprisoned there „ 

Fry, Joseph, Captain, C. S. N !!."."."!.'.".."!!."! \e~ 

Gallatin, U. S. schooner 66, 67,' 68^ 74',' 78! 8; 'go' 07 12? 

Garretson, Frederic, Asst. Surgeon, C. S. S. Florida.... ' ' '««' 274 

Gordon, Robert C " 5 * g4 

Gordon or Nassau, blockade-runner CSS ' " -?'*,' Wq JZ 

Gourdin, H., Charleston, S. C .'.'.'.'.' ~ 67, ~ 3 ' \f 

Grafton, J. Dana, Dr., Surgeon, C. S. S. Florida'.'.'.'.'.. "-'wi ^c 

Grier, Jno. A., U. S. S. Crusader 59 ' ,?f 

^ l 5 

432 INDEX 


Gulf Stream .* 114 

Gwathmy, Washington, Lieutenant, U. S. N 149 

Hamilton, Bermuda, Gazette, extract from 298, 299 

Hassler, F. R., Prof., U. S. Coast Survey 57, 58 

Hilton Head 223, 224 

Hoole, James L., Lieutenant, C. S. S. Florida 258, 324 

Hull, Isaac, Captain, U. S. N 49 

Itapeva, South America, battle of 358 

Johnston, Albert S., General, C. S. A 236 

Jones, J. Pembroke, Captain, C. S. N 102, 204 

Letter 251, 252 

Jouett, James E., Lieut. Comdg., U. S. N 215 

Kell, Jno. M., Captain, C. S. N 239, 344 

Letters from 398, 399, 400 

Lamar, Mirabeau, General 28 

Lamar, Henrietta 29 

Lamar, Loretta 29 

Lambert, Thos. R., Rev., Chaplain, U. S. N 400, 412 

Lanier, Edward, Lieutenant, U. S. N 141 

Lawley, Francis C, M. P., article in London Times 329-335 

Lee, Robert E., General, C. S. A 225, 226 

Letter from 329, 331, 336 

Lilian, C. S. S., blockade-runner (see article by Hon. F. C. Lawley, 

M. P.) 329-335 

Low, John, Provisional Master C. S 338 

Levy, W. P., Commodore, U. S. N 138 

Luce, Stephen B., Lieutenant, now Rear-Admiral, U. S. N 122, 191 

Lynch, James J., Asst. Paymaster, C. S. N 263, 380 

McBlair, Chas. H., Commander, U. S. N. and C. S. N 68, 225 

McCauley, Chas. S., Commodore, U. S. N 168 

Maffitt, J. N., Rev., sketch of his life 19-46 

Chaplain of Congress 25 

Death near Mobile 26 

Maffitt, William, Dr., adopts John N. Maffitt and brings him to his 

home at Ellerslie 30, 31 

Maffitt, Eliza 52, 53 

Letters to 54, 55 

Maffitt, John Newland, the younger. Parentage, birth at sea, home at 

Ellerslie, sent to White Plains. N. Y., etc 30 

Commissioned as midshipman, U. S. Navy 31 

Ordered to U. S. sloop-of-war St. Louis 31 

Ordered to Boston Navy Yard 32 

Ordered to U. S. frigate Constitution, "Old Ironsides" of historic 

fame 32 

Chapters from his bantling, "Nautilus, or Cruising Under 

Canvas" 32-51 

Arrival on board Constitution and greetings 33 

Incidents of cruise of Constitution; "Bruin the Bear" 34 

"Sweethearts and Wives" 36, 37 

Arrival at Athens and visit of King and Queen of Greece to the 

Constitution 38, 39 

Port Mahon and disastrous incident 41 

INDEX 433 

Maffiit Page 

Ordered to U. S. schooner Shark for homeward voyage to Gosport 

Navy Yard 45> ^ 

Examination in Baltimore and Board of Examiners 47-50 

Ordered to U. S. sloop-of-war Vandalia 52 

Visits Mexico ; letters home .53 54 

Appointed acting lieutenant and ordered to frigate Macedonian. . . ' 54 
Pensacola and marriage ; his first child, "Florie," born ; christened 

by Chaplain on board U. S. frigate Macedonian 56 

Ordered to U. S. Coast Survey under Prof. F. R. Hassler 57 

Surveys shoals off Nantucket 60-63 

Interesting discovery of new shoal 61 

Removes his family to Baltimore, where his son Eugene Anderson 

is born 64 

Survey of Boston Harbor and the Shoals .65-70 

Survey of Beaufort, N. C y Q 

Survey of Charleston Harbor, S. C, and Bull's Bay. ...... . . . . . .71-72 

Hatteras cove and Hatteras inlet j^ 

Discovery of new channel in Charleston Harbor 75 

Savannah River and bar surveyed 78 

Report on light-house on upper jetty, Cape Fear River, N. C 82-84 

Great amount of work done 98 

Surveying party arrives at Smithville, N. C 85 

Life at Smithville, N. C. ; dramatic association 84, 85 

Entertainment described by 89-95 

Second marriage and return to Smithville 99 

Important discoveries in survey IOO 

Deep sea soundings 102-103 

Work of years 1856 and '57 .. ... .124-131 

Detached from U. S. Coast Survey 135 

Ordered to command U. S. brig Dolphin " 135 

Returning Board's arbitrary and unjust proceedings 136 

Protests and requests Court of Inquiry (see "The Case") 136 

Honorably restored J97 

Removes family to "Carrieville" 204 

Removes to Washington, D. C. 1214 K St.; life in Washington: 

death of Mrs. Maffitt 20S 

Ordered to command U. S. S. Crusader 204 

Captures slavers and pirate 205-209 

Visits New Orleans, 1861 ; visits Mobile; visits Havana. .... .215, 216 

Loan to U. S. Government from private chest; ordered to New 

York 2l6 

Resigns from U. S. Navy 2I g 2lQ 

Arrives in Montgomery and offers services to Confederacy; 

receives commission as lieutenant, with orders to report to 

1 atnall 22 o 221 222 

At battle of Port Royal. S. C '. '. " 222' 223' 224 

Joins the staff of Gen. Robert E. Lee at Coosawhatchie. ' ' 225 
Mapping roads, building forts, and obstructing Coosaw River. 22s 

Incidents of association with General Lee ooj oJ; 

Ordered to C. S. S. Cecile ....'."." .".'.'." 228 

Description of blockade-running 228-2^ 

434 INDEX 


Takes command of the Gordon 237 

Takes charge of C. S. S. Oreto, and secretly prepares for sea. .238, 239 

Rushes her to Green Key 276 

Upon appearance of yellow fever epidemic sails for Cardenas 248 

Is taken ill 249 

Recovers and sails for Mobile 252 

Meets the enemy and boldly dashes ahead 253 

Description of the attack 253-255 

Receives letter of congratulation from Admiral Buchanan 256 

Communication from Secretary Mallory (see cruise of Florida) 258, 259 

Interview with Governor at Pernambuco 293 

Sends nautical instruments, charts, flags, tea and coffee, by steamer 

Robert E. Lee, to the Confederacy 303, 304 

"A timely present" 304 

Notice of his appointment as a commander, C. S. N. ; copy of the 

appointment 3°6 

Reports to Secretary Mallory articles sent by C. S. S. R. E. Lee. . . 305 
Enters Port of Brest; letter to Mr. Slidell; to Admiral of Port. 310, 311 
Applies to be detached on account of health ; takes command of 

C. S. S. Florie and returns to Confederacy 321, 328 

In command of C. S. S. Lilian leaves Hamilton, Bermuda, for 
Wilmington, N. C. (see article by Hon. F. C. Lawley, M. P.).. 331 

Takes command of C. S. ram Albemarle 336, 339 

Detached and commands C. S. S. Owl 347, 349 

Enters Cape Fear River on return trip and anchors off Fort Caswell ; 

is interviewed by Capt. E. S. Martin; sails for Charleston 348 

Comes in collision with blockader and receives her whole broad- 
side ; log of C. S. S. Florida with mail is sunk 349 

Enters port of Galveston through fleet of sixteen Federal vessels, 

grounds, and is fired into but escapes 350 

In Havana is joined by Capt. J. Pembroke Jones and sails for 

Halifax 351 

Thence to Liverpool and delivers Ozvl to Frazier, Trenholm & Co. 354 

Obtains command of British merchantman Widgeon 356 

Vessel is chartered to Brazilian Government 358 

Trying duties ; resigns Widgeon 357, 359 

Lands in New York and visits Brooklyn Navy Yard; cordial 

reception 359, 360 

Reaches Wilmington, N. C, and purchases a farm, the "Moorings" 360 

Life and literary work at the "Moorings" 397, 4*6 

Incidents which caused writing of "Nautilus" and led to mar- 
riage 360, 361, 362 

Takes command of steamer Hornet, or Cuba (see Cuba) 363-376 

Visits Washington as witness in Court of Inquiry and is told true 

history of sinking of C. S. S. Florida 383, 387, 388 

Nominated for position in Custom House in Wilmington 423 

Severe illness and passing away 423, 424, 425 

Resume of career 426, 427 

Tribute of Admiral D. D. Porter, U. S. N 416-422 

Tribute of Admiral George Dewey, U. S. N 427, 428 

Tribute of Silas Bent 428 

INDEX 435 

Maffitt Eugene A., C. S. N, Midshipman on the C. S. S. Alabama *' 
and in fight with U. S. S. Kearsarge; offers his oar to Captain 
Kell (see tribute of Captain Kell) ; is rescued by the Deerhound. . 344 
On his return to America is arrested and imprisoned in Fort 

Warren, Boston .,-- 

Marriage in Wilmington ^ 

Death 2? 

Maffitt, "Florie" (see Florie) V A « *6 

Macedonian, U. S. Frigate „ 

Malmesbury, C. A., Rev 28 

Mallory, S. R., Hon. Sec. C. S. Navy, letters .221, 238 241 258 259 

263, 264 305, .306, 335, 336, 337, 339, 340, 341, 342, 345, 34^ 352,' 3 53,' 354 
McGarvey, Captain, C. S. N, gunboat Diana. . oc 

McKinley, I. J., U. S. Coast Survey 180 

Martin, E. S., Captain, C. S. A .'..'.'.'.'.'.'.'.'.'.'.'. 348 

Mathews, T., C. S. N., under nom de guerre of George T. Sinclair' 

serves on board C. S. S. Florida AO i aqa 

Letters of ' "1 t 1J 

McRae, Duncan K., Colonel, C. S. A '.'. '.'. '.'. '. '.'. '.'.'.'.'. '.'. . 30 

McRae, David, of Scotland, letter and notes from his book 377-381 

Maury, Mathew F., Commander, C. S. N, Naval Agent abroad 1863- 

J 865 _ 2I „ 2 

Moore, Jas. H., Lieutenant, U. S. N ' ' j 43 

Morris, Chas. Managault, C. S. N., his report of seizure of CSS 

Florida in port of Brazil 383-386 

"Nautilus, or Cruising Under Canvas" .360-363 

Chapters from 32-51 

Dedication ^g 2 

Neville, F. A., Commander, U. S. N i 7Q 

Nicholas, John S., Commander, U. S. N jiX 

North Carolina, home of J. N. Maffitt 30 

Appointed to C. S. Navy from (see Naval War Records Confed- 
erate States Navy i86i-'65) 8 9 

Owl, C. S. S., blockade-runner, passes forts at mouth of Cape Fear; 
attempts to enter Charleston Harbor and narrowly escapes capture ; 
log of C. S. S. Florida and mail sunk by young officer ; enters 
Galveston Harbor, passing sixteen U. S. gunboats; grounds; is 
fired into but escapes; reaches Nassau in damaged state; visits 
Havana and Halifax and at Liverpool is delivered to Frazier 

Trenholm & Co ' fi 

Pearson, G. V., Captain, U. S. N .'.'.'.".'.'.'.'.".".'.'.'.".' i~S 

Porter DD Admiral, U. S. N, relates true story of 'sinking 'of ' 

C b. b. Florida ,q, ,0.. ,00 

His tribute to Maffitt '.'.'.'.'. 3 ' 4%' S 

Preble George H, Captain, later Rear- Admiral, U. S. N.,"attack on 

U b. b. Florida in Mobile Bay 253-^56 

Court of Inquiry and testimony W 383 

Correspondence *,'n ' " U' W'^.^k Ar t 

r>^„ j t t ~ t; t 39, 4°, 4 l > 400-412 

Read J Laurens, C. S. N., service on board C. S. S. Florida o 4 , 

p A 1C ru GSS w d r d - ath 'A'- 202 > 2 °3, 226, 250, 2i 

Read, Chas. W, Lieutenant, C. S. N., commanded Clarence outfit of 
C. b. b. Florida 259, 265, 287, 288, 289, 327, 343 

436 INDEX 

Reports of Prof. A. D. Bache, U. S. Coast Survey, for years 1844-1858, 

58; 1845, 59; 1846, 60-63; 1847, 65; 1848, 66-68; 1849, 68-70; 1850, 

70-77; 1851, 77-84; 1852, 96-98; 1853, 100-105; 1854, 106-113; 1855, 

1 14-124; 185b, 124-131; 1857, 131-135; 1858 135 

Report of Lieut. Comdg. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. N., on Survey of Beaufort 

Harbor, N. C 109-113 

Report of Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, C. S. N., August 1, 1862 242 

Report of Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, C. S. N., December 24, 1864— Partial list 

of vessels captured by C. S. S. Florida 342, 343 

Rhind, Alex. C, Lieutenant, Captain, and later Rear-Admiral, U. S. N., 

member of dramatic association 85, 87, 88, 398 

Rogers, G. R. P., Lieutenant and later Rear-Admiral, U. S. N 148, 169 

Seeley, John, Third Asst. Engineer, C. S. S. Florida 250 

Senunes, Raphael, Captain, C. S. N., later Admiral 239, 399 

Seward, W. H., Hon. Secretary of State U. S., correspondence in 

regard to C. S. S. Florida 392-395 

Shark, U. S. Schooner, incidents on board of 45 

Simonton, Chas. H., Hon 199-202 

Sinclair, Arthur, Commander, U. S. N. and C. S. N 146 

Shubrick, Wm. B., Captain, later Rear-Admiral, U. S. N 138 

Spidell, John, First Asst. Engineer C. S. S. Florida 308 

Sprunt, James, Mr 329, 2>77 

Stribling, John M., Lieutenant C. S. N., services on C. S. S. 

Florida 241, 245, 246, 256, 257 

Stone, S. Graham, Lieutenant, C. S. N., officer of C. S. S. Florida — 

letter 260, 403 

Susan Beirne, C. S. S., blockade-runner 350 

Tatnall, Josiah, Commodore, C. S. N., fleet and fight at Port Royal, 

S. C 223, 224 

Mentioned 220 

"The Case" of Lieut. J. N. Maffitt, U. S. Navy, testimony, affidavits, 

etc., defense 137-197 

Tobias, V. J., Secretary Charleston Chamber of Commerce 156 

Totten, B. F., Commander, U. S. N ' 184 

Upshur, A. B., U. S. Navy Department 139 

Vandalia, U. S. sloop-of-war 52, 53 

Vogel, Lionel, Act. Master's Mate, C. S. S. Florida 245 

Watson, J. M., Lieutenant, U. S. N 190 

Welles, Gideon, Hon. Secretary U. S. Navy 395 

Wilkinson, J. D., Commodore, U. S. N 139, 167 

Wilkinson, John, Captain, C. S. N 304 

Widgeon, British merchantman 356, 3^,7, 358, 359 

Wilson, S. B., Captain, U. S. N 192 

Whiting, W. D., Lieutenant, U. S. N 158 

Woodhull, Maxwell. Lieutenant, U. S. N 139 

Young Antonio, pirate captured by U. S. S. Crusader 214